The efficient use of energy is the political, social and technical challenge for Europe for the next decade. The primary goal is to protect natural resources and the environment in Europe in a sustainable manner, while retaining our comfortable way of life. There is therefore a specific challenge to reduce electrical energy consumption in Europe which must be met if the 20% to 30% reduction in energy consumption by 2020 will be achieved.

OPERA will directly contribute to this goal because white light sources based on Inorganic LEDs (Light-emitting diodes) are an emerging technology which will soon dominate the lighting market. However, there remain significant research challenges before a high efficacy, high lumen output (100W-incandescent-equivalent), retrofit lamp with high quality white light can be made at an affordable price.

In mainstream LED lighting, white light is obtained from a phosphor layer which is placed directly on top of a blue light-emitting LED. In the OPERA project, we will place the LEDs in a highly-reflective light-mixing chamber with the phosphor at the exit surface, thereby reducing output losses significantly. As the chamber has reduced phosphor temperature (80°C, instead of 160°C) and reduced light intensit y (1000x less), inexpensive and wavelength-tunable organic phosphors may be used instead of costly and export-restricted rare-earth based inorganic phosphors.

 

OPERA will demonstrate a breakthrough in LED light engines which will DOUBLE the luminous efficacy
of the state-of-the-art direct phosphor-converted LED modules.

 

OPERA therefore introduces two new innovations for radically improving the system efficiency, and ensures the introduction of a sustainable and affordable LED solution to the market:

We will increase the efficacy of the LED light engine further by replacing state-of-the- art inefficient light diffusers with efficient diffractive optics complemented with an improved reflectivity of the mixing chambers.

We introduce a new light converting element using organic phosphors with significantly higher efficiencies and long lifetimes (50000hrs). These light converting elements are inexpensive, have higher phosphor-conversion efficiencies than inorganic phosphors, are wavelength-tunable, manufactured in Europe, and ecologically sustainable.

These results will be implemented in two demonstrators:

  1. LED engine with efficacy of 130Lm/W at CCT 2700K with CRI 90. (“Incandescent”)

  2. LED engine with efficacy of 150Lm/W at CCT 4000K with CRI 80. (“Fluorescent tube”)

As the primary concern for existing LED technology solutions is that the cost of bulb- replacements is too expensive, OPERA will simultaneously address both the cost issue (using organics instead of rare earths) and the energy efficiency issue (increased efficiency), while improving sustainability and European freedom of action (from export restrictions on rare earths).

The OPERA consortium has been created to address the research challenges associated with the remote phosphor optical configuration (Philips Research, TU/Delft), efficient stable organic phosphor definition (Universities of Cambridge, Syncom), and components (Wacker, Microsharp) for light engine construction (Philips Lighting). The OPERA project therefore gives European industry an important role in the design and manufacturing of optical components based on alternative phosphors for light conversion and light engine construction. Ultimately, OPERA will make highly efficient white light engines, based on new inherently lower-cost organic phosphor materials and compact optics, and provide a long- term European manufacturing and set of knowledge control points.