5 inventions set to shake up the lighting world

Can you really run an LED light for no energy at all? Inventor Malcolm Wright reckons he can

1    No-energy lighting

Never mind low-energy lighting – here comes no-energy lighting. British inventor Malcolm Wright has come up with a way to run an LED light for no power at all.

He’s not a wizard – he’s just found a way for LEDs to piggyback on the power used by other devices, so they can be run ‘for free’. It works by inserting an LED circuit in series with a motor or other electrical load – ideally in an appliance with a constant power requirement such as an extractor fan, vacuum cleaner or pump. Although this results in a slight loss of power to the motor, the LED circuit improves the power factor, freeing up enough power to light up the LEDs.

It’s not that the light doesn’t use any power, it’s more that it takes advantage of the imperfections of another circuit to do a bit of extra work. As long as your electricity bill is calculated using a watt meter (which for most users it is), then this doesn’t cost you a thing.

Wright is already using his invention to provide free light in his living room when the TV is on, and free lighting in his garage from his pond pump. And he’s on the hunt for the ‘killer app’ where it can offer really compelling advantages. It could provide free light under cooker hoods, on the front of vacuum cleaners (to see into those awkward corners), or in factories that use ventilation fans.


An LED light bulb, turbocharged with the wonder material graphene

2    The graphene light bulb

Graphene is the wonder material of the future. It’s a form of carbon with atoms arranged in a way that gives it super strength and conductivity, as well as lots of other weird properties.

If you believe the hype, it’s set to be at the heart of all kinds of innovations of the future, revolutionising everything from buildings to sports equipment to water filtration.

The University of Manchester reckons a new kind of light bulb could be added to that list as one of the first commercial applications of graphene.

In a graphene LED lamp, the graphene doesn’t actually give off any light, it just improves conductivity and heat dissipation to make a standard LED bulb brighter, more efficient and longer-lasting. 


The eco-light is designed to have a much smaller environmental footprint than other lights

3    The ‘eco’ light

Even ‘environmentally friendly’ lighting products such as LEDs, which consume very little energy, still have an environmental footprint associated with how they’re manufactured, distributed and disposed of.

A team at Nottingham Trent University in England, working with Spanish manufacturer ONA and backing from the European Commission, has developed what they’re calling an ‘eco-light’, with a much lower environmental footprint throughout all stages of its life cycle.

The researchers say the eco-light’s environmental footprint is 75 per cent smaller than for LED bulbs currently available. It’s got a recycled aluminium heatsink, wires cased in silicone instead of PVC and recycled PET casing. 

The university’s Professor Daizhong Su says: ‘This design should serve as a blueprint for manufacturers to develop lighting products with a low impact on the environment.’


4    The artificial skylight that you won’t believe isn’t real

CoeLux was the standout innovation at last year’s LuxLive show. It’s an artificial skylight, using an LED light source and a layer of nanomaterial that creates ‘Rayleigh scattering’ – the same phenomenon that makes the sky look blue. Along with some clever use of mirrors to give an illusion of distance, the result is a ceiling panel that looks just like a sunlit sky. It has to be seen to be believed. The downside is, if you want one, you need a one-metre ceiling void and £50,000.


5    The light that stays on in a power cut

The idea behind Iviti’s On lamp is simple: it’s got a back-up battery so it stays on in a power cut. It can last for several hours on battery power, and you can even use it with another Iviti device that senses when demand is high on the electricity grid, so you can switch to battery power, and earn money back from your electricity company for helping them to reduce the load at peak times.


  • See the latest in lighting innovation at LuxLive 2018, Europe’s largest annual lighting event taking place on 14th & 15th November at the ExCeL London. Featuring eight conference tracks and over 100 expert industry speakers. Entry is FREE – simply register to attend HERE