Revolutionary ‘light emitting wallpaper’ could start to replace light bulbs in 2012

Carbon Trust backs organic LED lighting technology that promises major carbon cuts

A company developing ultra-efficient organic LED (OLED) lighting technology has been awarded a £454k grant by the Carbon Trust. The OLED materials, being pioneered by LOMOX Ltd, have a wide variety of potential applications and when coated onto a film could be used to cover walls creating a light-emitting wallpaper which replaces the need for traditional light bulbs.

As well as being flexible, OLED film will require a very low operating voltage (between 3 to 5 volts) so it can be powered by solar panels and batteries making it ideal for applications where mains power is not available such as roadside traffic warning signs.

Lighting in buildings accounts for a sixth of total electricity use in the UK.  The LOMOX OLED technology promises to be 2.5 times more efficient than standard energy saving bulbs.  It has been estimated that, by replacing current lighting technologies, it could reduce annual global CO2 emissions by over 2,500,000 tonnes by 2020 and nearly 7,400,000 by 2050, equivalent to a quarter of the annual carbon emissions of Wales (or the annual emissions of Birmingham).

The Welsh company aims to have the first lighting products using its technology available in 2012 and also plans to use the same technology to create more energy efficient television screens.

Mark Williamson, Director of Innovations at the Carbon Trust, said: “Lighting is a major producer of carbon emissions. This technology has the potential to produce ultra efficient lighting for a wide range of applications, tapping into a huge global market. It’s a great example of the kind of innovation that makes the UK a hotbed of clean technology development. We’re now on the look-out for other technologies that can save carbon and be a commercial success.”

Ken Lacey, Chief Executive of LOMOX, said: "LOMOX is an OLED Innovation and Development Company. OLEDs are new light emitting devices for low energy lighting and flat panel display applications. LOMOX OLEDs are more efficient, cost effective to produce and do not suffer from the oxidation defect of other polymer OLEDs, providing substantially longer lifetimes. Lighting using LOMOX OLED technology consume significantly less energy and emits less CO2 than conventional lights. We are pleased to be working with the Carbon Trust to develop this "Green" technology.”

Operating lifetime has traditionally been a problem with OLED technology, but LOMOX has found a way to achieve significantly longer lifetimes than fluorescent lamps. The technology will also be more efficient (producing 150 lumens/watt) as it only emits light along one axis. OLEDs can produce a more natural looking light than other forms of lighting.

The Carbon Trust is currently on the lookout for other technologies with significant carbon saving potential to receive up to £500k of grant funding through its Applied Research scheme. It has recently launched an open call for applications which will close on 18th February 2010. Applications can be made at www.carbontrust.co.uk/appliedresearch.

The Carbon Trust's Applied Research grant scheme has supported 164 projects from around 1900 applications and committed a total of £23m towards research worth around £55m. Approximately 65% of completed projects have, or are in the process of generating new patents, making commercial sales or receiving further investment into the development of the technology.

The scheme has provided grant funding to a wide range of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies including fuel cells, combined heat and power, bioenergy, solar power, low carbon building technologies, marine energy devices and more efficient industrial processes.