Stephen Chu: lying slimeball

However the energy secretary, Steven Chu, has argued that the 2007 law does not amount to a blanket ban on all incandescent bulbs. But it does require those bulbs to be more efficient. \”These standards do not ban incandescent bulbs,\” Chu told a conference call with reporters. \”You\’re still going to be able to buy halogen incandescent bulbs. They\’ll look exactly like the ones you\’re used to. They can dim. They cut out instantly. They look and feel the same.\”

Look, yes, I know, you\’ve a Nobel and I don\’t.

However, I supply the lighting industry and you don\’t.

Halogens are not the same as incandescents. The latter, the light comes from that piece of tungsten heating up in a vacuum. The former, there\’s a gas in the bulb (that\’s the halogen bit, see?) which is then heated by the tungsten wire.

Different technology. And, as you should also know, the gas in the halogens is actually mercury. The halogens themselves (EuI3, ScI3 and the like) are dopants in miniscule amounts.

The really important point about this (apart from the fact that people using more halogens is just great for me) is that that mixture of halogens and mercury costs more than the entire incandescent bulb does to manufacture.

So you\’re still insisting that people go off and use a more expensive tehnology to the detriment of their pocket books.


Update: And I am of course entirely confusing halogen bulbs with metal halide bulbs. Silly Timmy.

12 thoughts on “Stephen Chu: lying slimeball”

  1. If the energy saving outweighs the higher upfront cost then most consumers will make the switch anyway and no regulation is required. If the energy saving does not outweigh the higher upfront cost then the government should be thinking about why it is introducing the regulation at all.

  2. Sorry, Timmy, you’ve got that wrong. You are confusing Xenon/mercury arc lamps (seen in projectors and cars) with Halogen bulbs.

    The problem with Tungsten filaments is when a part of the filament is a teeny bit narrower, as happens, it’s resistance is slightly higher. This causes it to get hotter, and to vapourize slightly more quickly, which causes it to get narrower.

    In a halogen bulb, the tungsten vapour forms tungsten halide (usually bromide but can include other halogens), which decomposes in the higher temperature regions, raising the partial pressure of tungsten in the vicinity of the weakened portion of the filament, being deposited and thereby making it thicker.

    The consequence of this is the filament can be (must be) run at a higher temperature, and that is what makes it more efficient while also lasting longer.

    They do not contain mercury.

    The main problem is they blow the dimmer switch when they go, so you have to use a more expensive, higher rated, dimmer.

  3. A lot of customers won’t make the switch voluntarily because they see the huge upfront cost for the new technology but it takes months to years to see an effect on your electricity bill.

    Still, a ban is totally irrelevant because with a little luck, within a decade we will have 200 lumen/Watt white LED bulbs, which will be more pleasant, and about twice as energy efficient as CFLs, last for a decade or more, and cost around €10.

  4. However, I supply the lighting industry and you don’t.

    Halogens are not the same as incandescents. The latter, the light comes from that piece of tungsten heating up in a vacuum.

    When you’re throwing your credentials around to demonstrate your expertise you should be careful not to be wrong.

    If there really was a vacuum in light bulbs, they would instantly implode from the atmospheric pressure pushing the glass inwards.

    Tungsten bulbs are actually filled with argon and or nitrogen I think. But someone who supplies the lighting industry would probably be able to tell you for sure.

  5. Update: perhaps you’re remembering bulbs from years ago. They were much bigger and thicker and hence stronger… So they could withstand the pressure.

    They didn’t work well though because the evaporating tungsten atoms got “sucked” into the vacuum and eventually deposited on the inside surface of the glass. The pressurised bulb filled with an inert gas prevents this.

    Here’s a link

  6. Tim, Ben is correct, halogen bulbs are incandescent bulbs with a drop of halogen added, which allows them to be run hotter. They have been the norm in car headlights and domestic spots for at least 20 years.

    Of course, if they built the nukes then we could continue with our much loved standard incandescents and their lovely natural black body spectrum.

  7. Of course people buy cheaper but high maintenance versions goods. Cars are an example.

    Fact is, in a cold country, Incandescents are not as inefficient as the heat energy is not always wasted, but adds to the heating of a home. I doubt if Mr Chu has that factored.

    Regardless, it is authoritarian, prod-nosed nudgerry.

    Btw, my spots are 3w (45w equiv) LED. 900w reduced to 54w. I DO NOT NEED SOME WHITEHALL MONKEY TO TELL ME SO.

  8. If there really was a vacuum in light bulbs, they would instantly implode from the atmospheric pressure pushing the glass inwards.

    That depends on how strong you make the glass. Thermos flasks featured glass-enclosed vacuums for years.

  9. Huh? I was wondering what EuI3 and ScI3 were, too.

    As far as I know, the halogens are F, Cl, Br, I, and At.

    But then, I’m only a chemist, so I might have this all wrong.

  10. JamesV, a little while ago I was talking over lunch to a Cambridge scientist, who told me that LED bulbs with the light spectrum of an old-fashioned standard incandescent bulb are much nearer than a decade away.

    I think he said 3 or 4 years away, and that was last year some time.

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