Robust idea burns bright
Innovation shows the pathway to saving energy, as Keith Orchison found out
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