energy saving


Submarines get greener LED lighting

The Solid State Lighting (SSL) project of the US’s Office of Naval Research kicked off recently with testing of a suite of LED lighting fixtures aboard USS New Hampshire, a Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine launched in 2008.
Submarines get greener LED lighting

According to the Office of Naval Research (ONR), one sailor’s request to replace noisy fluorescent bunk lights with a quiet alternative inspired the project, which forms part of its TechSolutions programme. SSL is being installed aboard several ships and submarines across the US Navy, and is one of several rapid-response technologies created using recommendations and suggestions from Navy and Marine Corps personnel, said the ONR.

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has installed 33 fixtures on USS New Hampshire, and plans to install SSL on another submarine, USS New Mexico, at a future date. “The goal is to eventually retrofit the entire forward section of the New Hampshire with SSL to assess the benefits of the advanced lighting system and measure savings achieved,” explains the ONR. USS Pearl Harbor, USS Preble and USS Chafee are all receiving the new lighting fixtures developed by ONR’s TechSolutions and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Although the SSL is in its early stages, the LED fixtures are showing great promise. Not only are they a quality of life improvement, but compared with fluorescent lights, LED fixtures last longer. They are more efficient, reducing maintenance requirements, energy usage and costs associated with storage, handling and disposal. Long term, SSL usage fleetwide could add up to considerable savings and improved readiness.

Efficiency improvements

“LED lights are an immediate way to improve efficiency across the fleet,” says Roger Buelow, chief technology officer at Energy Focus Inc. and principal investigator for the SSL project.

“Essentially, [SSL] lowers our workload and the amount of onboard spares that we are going to have to take on major deployments,” said Chief Petty Officer Scott Brand, an electrician’s mate on the New Hampshire. “That will significantly decrease the amount of space we have to consume with light bulbs.”

LEDs contain no hazardous materials, unlike fluorescents, which must be stored on board until warfighters can perform expensive and intensive disposal procedures.

“The submarine community is pushing to adopt LEDs because fluorescents contain mercury,” said Edward Markey, NAVSEA Philadelphia Electrical Powergroup and TechSolutions technical point of contact on the SSL project. “Hazardous materials require special disposal procedures, costing the Navy time, money and space.”

TechSolutions worked with Energy Focus to produce patented LED fixtures that are direct replacements for fluorescents. The replacements produce the same light output, but use half the power.

“As an example, the fluorescent version of the berth light found in every Sailor’s sleeping area runs at over 10 watts and is a legendary maintenance headache due to starter and lamp failures,” Buelow said. “Because of TechSolutions, the fleet now has a qualified LED version that runs at five watts, delivers the same light output and will last for a decade without maintenance.”

While Energy Focus fixtures have had a good track record on Navy ships, TechSolutions’ products were the first to be fully qualified by the service. Those components met the most stringent electromagnetic interference standards, requiring innovative manufacturing methods. “Making any electrical appliance tough enough to pass Navy shock and vibration tests is a challenge,” Buelow said.

TechSolutions is a rapid-response program that accepts recommendations and suggestions from Navy and Marine Corps personnel on ways to improve mission effectiveness through the application of technology. TechSolutions works closely with customers to meet specific requirements that cannot be readily satisfied with commercial-off-the-shelf technologies. Typical turn-around time for a working prototype is 12-18 months.

For additional information:

Office of Naval Research

The Editor

Point well made about the fact the article concerns nuclear submarines and may not fit with our ethos. Renewable Energy Magazine does not promote nuclear power, and although, admittedly, the article refers to a new LED technology that has been installed and is being tested in a nuclear submarine, it does not "tout the benefits of a nuclear submarine". The article's primary aim is to inform readers about the development of the new LED technology and the US Navy's SSL project and attempts to save energy.

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