Quantum Dots Offer Lighting Industry Solutions to Rare Earth Challenges – May 2021 Newsletter

By way of an introduction to this fascinating subject, I have written an article for a magazine about the world shortage of Rare Earth Metals at present.  The global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in global chip manufacturers being forced to direct efforts to other fields.  The trade war between the USA and China has worsened the situation.  China has the world’s major Rare Earth Metal reserves.  They are able to control prices and supply to meet the demand. – Philip Hammond, 28 April 2021

Over the past several decades, lighting has undergone tremendous innovation, enabling increases in output per watt of nearly 500 percent in 30 years. An essential ingredient fueling this surge is using a specific group of 17 minerals called rare earth elements (REEs). REEs are a class of minerals with unique characteristics necessary to manufacture many innovative products and high- technology devices.

Like many other high-tech manufacturing sectors, the lighting industry has used REEs to help drive innovation. For instance, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use four different REEs (cerium, europium, terbium, and yttrium) to reduce energy consumption by 75 percent compared with incandescent lamps. As many as six REEs (cerium, europium, gadolinium, lanthanum, terbium, and yttrium) are needed to achieve more than 80 percent energy reduction and proper color rendering for current light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

These REEs are relatively abundant in the earth’s crust but are found in low concentrations worldwide, making accessing them economically tricky. Despite this, and because of their necessity in advanced manufacturing, REEs are considered vital for our nation’s economic well-being.

While the United States was known for being a leader in supplying rare earth elements in the early and mid-1990s, we have since become 100 percent dependent on imports. China is now the dominant supplier for these minerals, controlling an estimated 80 percent of the global market. Because of geological scarcity, the REE supply chain’s vulnerabilities, geopolitical issues, trade policy, and other factors have become a national security concern.

There has been an increasing number of Federal laws and regulations attempting to reduce manufacturers’ dependence on foreign-supplied REEs to address this issue. Notably, October 2020’s Executive Order 13953 addresses the “threat to the domestic supply chain from reliance on critical minerals from foreign adversaries.” It aims to support the “domestic mining and processing industries.” Other emerging regulations prohibit the procurement of products containing REEs obtained from “adversarial nations.”

While the Federal government approaches the problem through increasing regulatory restrictions, manufacturers are seeking alternative solutions. The surest way to avoid the complications and risks inherent in the REE supply chain is to reduce or eliminate reliance on the minerals. The lighting industry might achieve reduced exposure to REEs through quantum dots (QDs), which are nanosized crystals used not only for general lighting and displays but also in an expanding portfolio of applications. Those applications include solar panels and windows, biomedical markers, anti-counterfeit and identification measures, agriculture, sensors, and light-conducting films. For lighting and displays, in particular, QDs are known for their excellent color and luminance comparable to other technologies. They are available in non-toxic compositions that do not rely on the use of REEs.

However, as the use of QDs increases, challenges remain. As with any emerging technology, standardization, quality, reliability, and broad availability can help other markets with adoption. NEMA will provide opportunities for its Members to shape the response to the REE supply chain crisis through innovative and proactive solutions such as launching the new NEMA Critical Minerals Council. Other strategies under development include researching the feasibility of a NEMA Luminescent Nanomaterials Council and a critical minerals sourcing program to help manufacturers increase supply chain transparency and mineral sourcing confidence.

I hope that this Newsletter finds you all in good health and that 2021 is delivering many positive opportunities and projects.

We have always been called upon to assist consulting electrical engineers, architects and individual clients to resolve LED lighting problems, lighting design issues or to conduct Measurement and Verification (M & V).  However, this year we have regularly consulted on a variety of issues and M & V.

One aspect that is of concern is that estates, apartment blocks, businesses and even local authorities install LED lighting without any correct lighting design and completely oblivious of the probable effects on neighbours and others in the vicinity.  The cases of obtrusive or more correctly now named nuisance light are on the rise.  The main cause of this is the use of excessively high powered LED luminaires with poor or no beam control usually installed by electrical contractors with no real knowledge about light and lighting.  These luminiares in most cases also produce high levels of discomfort glare.  In one case that I was called to investigate, the client was 65m away from the offending lighting of which was on the walkways on the fourth floor of an apartment block overlooking the property.

The old nutmeg issue is the matter of Standards and Compliance.  Equally important is the way in which Standards are applied by professionals and clients alike.  I have experienced several cases where the client specified illuminance levels considerably higher than those specified in SANS, IES, European or British standards.  Perhaps the greater cause for concern is that professional architects and engineers are indulging these excessive standards whereas the client should be given the correct advice.  I have experienced the results of this practise when M & V was conducted on site and where levels did not perfectly match those specified by the client, the luminaire supplier had to install additional luminaires at considerable expense as it necessitated the use of a cherry picker.

In many such cases, the problem originated in the lighting designs which in most cases are completed by unqualified lighting designers who do not know or understand how light responds in different applications.  Most of these lighting designers do not appreciate that every aisle in a supermarket or vast warehouse requires individual evaluation areas to ensure that the correct illuminance levels are achieved for both the horizontal and vertical planes.  For shoppers, it is to be able to see the products and pricing easily whereas in a warehouse it is to ensure that the correct products or pallets are selected.  It is also to be able to identify product labels and colours efficiently.

There is also a significant difference in the achieved illuminance levels when the racks or shelves are empty compared to when the racks or shelves are full of products.  It is further influenced by the colour of the packaging material.

To all students.  It is important that you take time to check the revisions and additional new content in the modules as and when you are notified.  The project to revise and update the content of every module is ongoing.

Professional lighting design always differs from those of unqualified lighting designers.  This cannot be stressed sufficiently.  To any professional consulting engineer, architect or interior architect or designer, you will be able to offer your clients the best professional lighting designs if you have studied lighting and received the best training possible in the use of RELUX Desktop lighting design software.  We are the leading educators in the field of illumination engineering including RELUX.

We are all too aware that the pandemic is still with us and will be with us for some time.  Despite this, lighting technology and lighting controls continue to advance.  In this edition of our Newsletter, enjoy reading about some of these advances including the development of touchless lighting controls.

As the first half of 2021 draws ever nearer, I urge you to stop being a spectator in the game of lighting, Seize the opportunity to take advantage of our amazing discounts applicable to all courses offered by the BHA School of Lighting.  Enrol today and graduate to the highest level of lighting education.

This May BHA School of Lighting is offering a 30% off discount when you enrol for any of our specialised lighting courses.

To qualify for the offer, simply download our enrolment form once you have selected the course you’d like to study and quote “30% OFF MAY” on the form where the discount code can be inserted.

Please forward your completed form to phil@bhalighting.co.za to complete the enrolment process.

Learn more about our short courses here – https://www.bhaschooloflighting.co.za/courses/short-courses

Learn more about our Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering course here – https://www.bhaschooloflighting.co.za/courses/advanced-diploma-in-illumination-engineering

We would like to welcome the following new students to BHA School of Lighting

  • Buntu Kelembe, Western Cape Government, Cape Town – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course
  • Leshmook Maharaj, Matla Consulting, Durban – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course
  • Ruben Triegaart, Proconics, Cape Town – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course
  • Thibault Fay, Thibault Fay Architects, Johannesburg – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course
  • Brett Urquhart, Lighting Revolution, Cape Town – BHASL005C21: Emergency Lighting Course

Happy Birthday to the following students celebrating their Birthdays this month of May! We hope you all have a memorable day!

  • Vongai Pasirayi, Johannesburg – 3 May
  • Pieter Venter, Pretoria – 9 May
  • Mathew Jennings  – 20 May
  • Ruben Triegaardt – 21 May
  • Melissa Gouws – 27 May
  • Braulia Rocha – 29 May

Congratulations to Corrie Prinsloo, Spoormakers & Partners, Centurion on your gradutation from the Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering course, we wish you every success now that you have a new string to add to your bow.

The following students are preparing to write their 1st and 2nd year Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering course theory and practical examinations.  We wish you success!

  • Renske Snyman, Cape Town, South Africa – as you prepare for your final practical examination
  • Leonel, Esteban Garcia Nunez, Mexico City. Mexico – as you prepare for your final practical examination
  • Eric Ceba, Qqeberha, South Africa – as you prepare for your 2nd year theory examination
  • Abinaya Jevaraju, Kuwait City, Kuwait – as you prepare for your 1st year examination

Join BHA School of Lighting’s “enLightened Community”

Our series of industry accredited live webinars have been developed to share lighting industry knowledge with build environment professionals which cover a vast range of interesting topics from the world of lighting.

Webinar Schedule

  • 6 May: Security Lighting REGISTER HERE
  • 20 May: Street & Road Lighting Design using Relux Desktop
  • 10 June: Sport Field Lighting




Join the BHA School of Lighting Alumni and follow us on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/bha-school-of-lighting/

You can also follow us on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bhaschooloflighting/


Signify’s Robert Lee brings some positive perspective to the demands placed on connected lighting and controls, which will drive greater confidence in returning to commercial office spaces and other campus-style buildings. (Image credit: Signify)

I am certain that most of you in the audience have seen the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” featured on any number of merchandise items such as T-shirts, mugs, and so on. This phrase originated from a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. What is remarkable is that even though 2.45 million posters were printed, few were displayed in public during the war. It was not until 2000 that the word got out, when a bookshop owner in England accidentally discovered the original poster in a box of secondhand books that were purchased at auction and went on to sell copies of it, according to Wikipedia.

I see a strong parallel between the need to continue daily life both during and beyond WWII and what we are going through now. Instead of fighting an enemy with military weapons, we are waging a battle against an invisible enemy known as COVID-19. As of this writing, this pathogen has infected over 118 million people worldwide and caused over 2.6 million confirmed deaths, according to the World Organisation.  The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 26 million confirmed cases and more than 527 thousand deaths in the United States. Given the situation, “Keep Calm and Carry On” is a fitting motivation as we prepare for, and look forward to, a post-pandemic world.

Growth in commercial connected lighting

I would argue that this phrase is also a strong motivator as the lighting industry marches forward. Despite the difficult 2020 and an uncertain 2021, there are some bright spots that we can draw strength from, including connected lighting.

For three consecutive years, I’ve witnessed strong sales of connected solutions for commercial lighting control. This growth has even exceeded industry analysts’ projections for the North American market. In an April 2020 blog for Signify’s website, I explored the idea that the disruption caused by the pandemic might bring new opportunities for the lighting industry. Specifically, I proposed that connected lighting systems would gain greater adoption because they could become the “sensors of human experience” through telemetry and data. This is especially true now even with the easing of restrictions regarding the indoor environment, and the concept has been echoed by other lighting industry stakeholders.

In a follow-up blog for Signify’s website, I explained how five converging requirements — touchless and automation, flexibility, need for data, ecosystem mindset, and wellbeing — will shape the future of connected lighting systems for years to come. I can take this one step further by stating that these five requirements are not only shaping the future of the lighting industry but also other industries that offer products and services that we use every day.

There are additional data which suggest that commercial connected lighting systems will gain more adoption. According to market intelligence and advisory firm Guidehouse Insights, global revenue for commercial connected lighting systems is expected to grow from roughly $4.4 billion in 2020 to $19.1 billion in 2029, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.9%. Within this category, services are expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.4%, slightly faster than hardware (16.0%) or software (18.6%).

Lighting controls could increase occupant confidence

Recently, office furnishing manufacturer Steelcase surveyed more than 32,000 workers from around the world to share their overall work experience during the pandemic. 95% said that they would like to be back to the office in some capacity, while 19% said that they are completely satisfied with their current work-from-home arrangement. And according to a separate survey reported via Tech Republic, 29% of respondents went as far as stating that they would quit their jobs if they were told they could not work remotely.
So how do we cope with changing attitudes toward the traditional workplace? What technologies can accommodate social distancing requirements, making building occupants feel safer?

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