Monday, February 2, 2009

Lighting: Scientists invent £2 energy saving lightbulb that last for 60 years (Goodby Compact Fluorescents) Hello Gallium Plays

From the Telegraph:

The researchers have designed a bulb that is three times more energy efficient than today's best offer and can cut lighting bills by 75 per cent.

The bulbs are made using Gallium Nitride (GaN), a man-made substance used in LEDs (light emitting diodes). It is routinely used in bike lights, mobile phones and camera flashes.

But until now the production costs have been too expensive for widespread use in homes and offices - a single bulb would have cost £20.

However, using funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the researchers found a cheaper technique to help manufacture the bulbs. Manufacturers have already begun work on production prototypes and the first units could hit shelves within two years.

Professor Colin Humphrey, head of the centre, said: "This could well be the holy grail in terms of providing our lighting needs for the future.">>>MORE

As most hard-core afficionados of the solar space know, someone is going to make Copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) technology commercially viable.

A couple days ago PV-Tech had a story:

NanoMarkets: CIGS thin film sales to top US$2.1 billion by 2016

In a new report from NanoMarkets, the market research firm is forecasting strong growth for CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenium) based thin film photovoltaics despite current economic difficulties. NanoMarkets is projecting CIGS sales to reach US$2.1 billion in 2016, up from US$402.1 million expected in 2011....MORE

And from Hard Assets Investor,

Gallium: A Slippery Metal:

The element that became known as gallium was another of those elements (like rhenium - see Rhenium: Son of Moly) predicted by Dmitri Mendeleev, the Russian chemist, when he constructed the periodic table, but not yet, at that time, found.

Nestled, as it is, in between zinc on its left, germanium on its right and below aluminum, it took the French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran until 1875 (some six or so years after the discovery of the periodic table) to find this elusive metal.

Boisbaudran pinned down the metal first spectroscopically (spectroscopy was one of his specialties) and only thereafter did he actually isolate the metal itself - a minute amount extracted from a number of tons of zinc ore! Being a Frenchman, and patriotic, he named the metal gallium after the ancient name for his country - Gallia.

Again, like rhenium, gallium does not exist in its pure metallic form in nature. Unlike rhenium, it may be scarce, but it is certainly not rare. In fact, its concentration in the Earth's crust is similar to that of arsenic and lead. As in the periodic table, it is most usually found in association with its neighbors there: aluminum, germanium and zinc. These days, the alumina industry is the major source of primary gallium.

Some Physical Properties

While gallium may have been a little slippery and difficult to pin down at first, now that it has been, it remains slippery in another, totally different, way. Like mercury (and, indeed, caesium, francium and rubidium), gallium is a liquid around room temperature - albeit a pretty warm room! Its melting point is actually only 85.58°F (29.76°C). This means that, if you held a lump of the metal in your hand, it would melt. Unlike mercury, however, at high temperatures it has a low vapor pressure.

On the other hand, one of gallium's peculiar characteristics is that it can be easily supercooled, i.e., cooled to below its freezing point without becoming a solid. And its boiling point is high, at 3,999°F (2,204°C). Indeed, it has the longest liquid range of all elements.

And even when it's solid, gallium is so soft you can cut it with a knife.

When combined with the elements arsenic and nitrogen, the resulting gallium compounds - gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN), respectively - display both significant optoelectronic and semiconductor properties. It is here that the main importance of the metal in our lives now lies....

...Primary Production

Most primary gallium is extracted from the smelter "liquor" resulting from the Bayer process used to produce alumina from bauxite (in which gallium is, essentially, a contaminant).

The major primary gallium-producing countries (and companies) are:


We've had a couple posts that mention Mendeleev's genius:

Nitrogen Upgraded, Potash Target Lowered; Ununquadium Decayed (AGU, CF; TRA; POT)

And: More IPCC SPM commentary

...As an aside, I rather like predictions and not just in the markets. Mendeleev with his eka-aluminum, eka-boron and eka-silicon: predicting the physical properties of elements not yet discovered, and leaving room for them in his table, so they'd have a place to reside when they were found, just bowls me over. Other folks have been impressed too:

When I first saw the Periodic Table, it hit me with the force of
revelation-it embodied, I was convinced, eternal truths...I thought of Mendeleev as a sort of Moses, bearing the tablets of the God-given Periodic Law.

-Oliver Sacks, neurologist and writer in The New Yorker, December 20, 1999.