Ro­bust idea burns bright

In­no­va­tion shows the path­way to sav­ing en­ergy, as Keith Orchi­son found out

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Clean Energy -

AN Aus­tralian in­ven­tion is of­fer­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ments around the world an op­por­tu­nity to ex­tend the life of street light­ing and cut green­house gas emis­sions.

The Ac­tive Re­ac­tor Com­pany’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tors, Richard Di­uz­niak and Brian Oldland, have achieved their first com­mer­cial break­through by sign­ing an agree­ment with Syl­va­nia Light­ing Aus­trala­sia, the coun­try’s lead­ing street light­ing sup­plier, to dis­trib­ute their prod­uct lo­cally and are now look­ing to ex­port it.

Street light­ing plays an im­por­tant role in pub­lic safety, but to do the job prop­erly lamps must main­tain a min­i­mum bright­ness level. To main­tain the nec­es­sary light­ing level as they age, they burn far more brightly at the start of their life and use more en­ergy in the process.

‘‘ The stan­dard mag­netic bal­last,’’ says Di­uz­niak, a Melbourne en­gi­neer and in­ven­tor of the tech­nol­ogy, which is now be­ing patented around the world, ‘‘ is very re­li­able, ro­bust and in­ex­pen­sive in run­ning th­ese lamps at sub­stan­tially con­stant power. The main disad­van­tages are its en­ergy losses, in­abil­ity to ac­cu­rately con­trol lamps and sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to power sup­ply volt­age vari­a­tions.’’

His con­troller is an elec­tronic de­vice in­stalled in the lamp hous­ing to run street lights — and high in­ten­sity lamps used at freight ter­mi­nals, ship­ping ports, air­ports, sports sta­di­ums, fac­to­ries and mines — much more ef­fi­ciently. It uses a mi­crochip and elec­tron­ics to con­trol the start­ing and run­ning of 150 watt to 2000 watt high- pres­sure sodium and metal halide lamps, mon­i­tor­ing them 50 times a sec­ond.

Di­uz­niak says his prod­uct can re­duce the power used by such lamps by 25 per cent over their life­time.

‘‘ This pro­vides con­sid­er­able cost sav­ings as well as cuts in green­house gas emis­sions,’’ he says. ‘‘ For ex­am­ple, if all the ap­pli­ca­ble lights on Vic­to­rian roads use the Ac­tive Re­ac­tor, the re­sult will be green­house gas sav­ings of 40,000 tonnes a year — the same as per­ma­nently tak­ing 10,000 cars off the state’s roads.’’

He adds that lo­cal gov­ern­ments and other users will also gain from ex­tended life of lamps, re­duc­ing re­place­ment hard­ware and in­stal­la­tion costs. He claims his de­vice will ex­tend the op­er­a­tional life of lamps by at least 50 per cent and de­liver sav­ings in re­place­ment and labour costs of around 33 per cent.

The Ac­tive Re­ac­tor has been tri­alled on a Melbourne road for 10,000 hours since 2005, Di­uz­niak says, and both en­ergy sav­ings and lamp life ex­ten­sion have met pre­dic­tions.

Brian Oldland says the Aus­tralian mar­ket alone is sub­stan­tial — with 30,000 new street light­ing in­stal­la­tions a year — and the over­seas op­por­tu­ni­ties are many times greater. The con­troller can be in­stalled at the time the lamp is man­u­fac­tured, or retro- fit­ted.

Ex­port po­ten­tial: In­ven­tor Richard Di­uz­niak says his en­ergy- sav­ing de­vice could save tens of thou­sands of tonnes of green­house gases

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