For those who want to start saving the planet at home, lighting presents a vexing paradox. While incandescent bulbs are wildly inefficient, compact fluorescent bulbs contain hazardous chemicals. With funding from the Department of Energy, RTI International claims to have solved the problem with the invention of nanofiber bulbs more efficient than regular lights, and more environmentally sound than fluorescent bulbs.
The nanofibers themselves have diameters smaller than a human hair, and emit warm, white light when in contact with an electric current. More important from an energy usage perspective, the nanofiber lights put out 55 lumens of light per watt. That makes them five times more efficient than a traditional light bulb.
Unfortunately, the lights remain in the testing phase. According to RTI, the nanofiber bulbs won't become available for at least another three to five years. Until then, everyone has to continue lighting their house the old-fashioned way.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.