DOE Sponsors Lighting Competition
March 7, 2012 - 4:00pm

The invention of practical, household LED lighting products could be getting much closer, thanks to a new competition sponsored by the Dept. of Energy (DOE).

In September 2008, the DOE established the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize -- or L Prize, for short -- the very first government-sponsored, technology competition designed to influence lighting manufacturers to development ultra-efficient lighting products to replace the common light bulb.

The contest will award $20 million in prize money for the best products in three categories: replacement technologies for 60 watt incandescent lamps, replacement technologies for PAR 38 halogen lamps and the creation of a new lamp that delivers more than 150 lumens per watt.

This year, the DOE has upped the ante, announcing that nine new organizations and utilities have agreed to support and promote the contest’s winners. The contest now wields the influence of 16 partners coast to coast and is in position to accelerate the development of LED replacement technologies in a big way.

It won’t be an easy victory, however; requirements and testing procedures for each entry are ultra stringent.

To enter an LED product into the contest, manufacturers must submit product samples to the judges, along with a plan describing how they would mass-produce those products. Then those products have to be tested at independent laboratories.

Next, the contest’s technical committee will review the products and test results and put the products through a lifetime testing program. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy and utility partners will also test the products in the field.

The manufacturer in each category that meets all of the requirements first will win the prize.

Kelly Gordon, Program Manager of the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is hopeful that the contest will secure an entry in the near future.

“There is a hefty indication we’ll get at least one entry sometime this year,” she says. “There is a lot of interest, and many [potential entrants] are sending in questions.”

For more information on these LED design competitions, visit

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