May 15, 2012

Chicago Tribune

Austin-based Nuventix has hand in GE's breakthrough new LED bulb

GE Lighting is touting what it calls a breakthrough in light-emitting diode bulbs, thanks to a development accomplished with the help of Austin-based Nuventix.

GE said its new LED bulb will use just 27 watts of power and will be able to replace 100-watt incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs make up the bulk of bulbs sold for home use. The development leapfrogs industry expectations for a 75-watt equivalent LED build, the company said.

GE will be showing the prototype light bulb at the LightFair trade show in Las Vegas this week. It expects the bulb to be on store shelves in the first half of next year. Prices for the new bulbs have not been set.

LED lights have been used commercially for about a decade, but making them available for home use has been the industry's next frontier. The technology is promising because the LED lights use less energy and last longer than conventional bulbs.

But the new bulbs require cooling to ensure long life. That's where Nuventix comes in. It makes an oscillating membrane called a synthetic jet that fits within the bulb and provides cooling.

Steve Briggs, general manager of LED systems for GE, said the bulb overcomes a "previously insurmountable technical challenge" -- cooling the LED bulb without making it bigger.

"We now have a clear path to attain even higher light levels, which will give customers more energy-efficient lighting options in both commercial and residential settings," he said.

Jim Balthazar, CEO of Nuventix, said his company expected its partnership with GE to lead to breakthroughs in lighting.

"Once we came together last year, out teams wasted no time getting in the lab to build on the genius of GE's LED bulb design and to incorporate a synthetic jet solution that enabled GE to leapfrog its competitors," Balthazar said.

"We're a leader helping a leader, and it's going to benefit consumers that want high-quality LED lighting that performs as promised."