Although currently in pre-commercial development, there is already industry buzz about Fusion Lighting's Solar 1000, a lamp which can produce as much light as ninety 100W incandescent lamps, while consuming only 1,425W, according to the Rockville, MD-based manufacturer. A number of beta sites around the world are giving the technology a whirl, installing the Solar 1000 in airports, subway stations, building lobbies, museums, and industrial areas. And word about the lamp's potential is spreading: the Solar 1000 can produce brilliant daylight-colored light (6000K) resulting in a color rendering index (CRI) of 79, has a specified lumen output of 130,000, and has an efficiency of approximately 100 lumens/W.

"The quality of light is very impressive, and the development of new technology is very exciting," says Art Hatley, vice president of Fiberstars, one of several fiber-optic companies conducting research into the use of the Solar 1000.

"The positive benefits of using the Solar 1000 are extensive," adds George Awai, vice president of research and development of Fiberstars. "An electrodeless lamp, rated at 45,000 hours, with 130,000 lumens, and operating with little heat or UV effects, make this very useful for commercial applications." Fiberstars intends to develop this product and mass produce illuminators in the future, and will put the product into practice to illuminate its Lightfair booth, April 29 to May 1, at New York's Jacob Javits Convention Center.

Steve Mul, Fusion Lighting's sales and marketing director, says the new technology, which has been completely tested and is awaiting listing by UL and various European regulatory agencies, could be "the future" for many companies. "The Solar 1000 is in a pre-commercial state right now," he explains. "While we continue our fine-tuning, beta sites are being installed, and numerous companies are planning to incorporate the Solar 1000 into their products."

The sulfur light source was discovered by Fusion Systems Corporation in 1990, then researched and produced in limited quantities by company subsidiary Fusion Lighting. Fusion's Solar 1000 bulb is small; the outside is 13/8"(35mm), approximately the size of a golf ball. The glass sphere contains a small amount of sulfur and inert argon gas. Safe, low power (less than household microwave ovens) is focused by a magnetron on the sphere. This energy causes a plasma inside the sphere to form, producing a brilliant light spectrally similar to sunlight, with a slight greenish tint. The sphere is rotated to maintain an even light output and a power supply operates the magnetron, which is cooled by a small fan. The power supply has recently been redesigned and is now an electronic switching type, weighing 5lb (2.3kg). Dimming capability, down to 20% of full illumination, is another feature.

There are no filaments (electrodes) inside the sphere, so its construction is different than conventional light sources. Mul adds, "There is little lumen degradation over age." The Solar 1000 loses 10% after 500 hours of use. The long life (45,000 hours) of a Solar 1000 lamp provides increased reliability and requires less maintenance.

Currently Fusion is producing two models in limited quantities and on an OEM basis only-a 10" (260mm) multipurpose unit, and a 16" (406mm) unit for use with reflectors as an upright fixture. The 10" size was originally developed for use with Vancouver-based A.L. Whiteheads' optical light pipe, which uses 3M optical films. The lamp's extreme brightness and low heat production allow it to be coupled to a light pipe for distribution of the light up to a length of approximately 90' (27.5m).

Manufacturer Cylinear Lighting of Toledo, OH, uses the Solar 1000 to illuminate its optical light tubes. The company has installed the light tubes in a number of industrial and agricultural applications. "Cylinear is now developing a fixture for use on production lines in assembly plants," says Kevin Miekis, president of Cylinear. "We can put the light where you need it, and concentrate more light than fluorescent can produce in the same area. Instead of completely encircling the area with lights we can get it out of one tube or a series of shorter tubes, placing the light precisely where it is needed."