New materials blow wind energy away

New materials already offer many more immediate environmental and cost benefits than the current suggestions to turn to wind energy. During a seminar highlighting the role of new materials in energy conservation held in London today, Professor Humphreys of Cambridge University detailed the potential energy savings which could be implemented now, using existing technology. Cities such as Singapore and Denver USA were embracing the use of a new material, gallium nitride, for use in their traffic light systems. These materials require a fraction of the power needed for ordinary bulbs. Denver has seen its electricity bill for traffic lights fall from $330,000 per year to $26,000 per year with a saving in CO2 emissions equivalent to removing over 1000 cars from the road.

These materials can also be used for domestic lighting: if 50% of the light bulbs in the UK were replaced by white gallium nitride lighting we would reduce CO2 emissions by at least 10% and be able to close five power stations. The new traffic lights are available now. The new form of white lighting for homes and offices is expected to be available within five years. In addition the new lights would last for sixty years (at four hours per day average home usage).

In a second presentation Professor Harry Bhadeshia described new material solutions to enhance the operating efficiency of existing power stations. By using new high temperature materials, the efficiency of conventional oil and fixed power stations can be increased by 16%, hence CO2 emissions would be reduced by 16% and the cost of electricity should fall.

Both speakers reinforced the view that the huge capital investment for alternative forms of energy involving wind energy was misplaced at this time. With existing and fully developed new materials, the government could take a major step towards meeting its emission targets. Humphreys added, "Singapore as a technology driven economy has seen the light the UK is still in the dark age".

Notes for Editors

1. The seminar "The Impact of New Materials to Reduce Energy Costs", organised by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and the Institute of Energy was held at 1 Carlton House Terrace in London on Wednesday 26 February.

2. For more information, contact Nuna Staniaszek on 020 7451 7320, email


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