Industrial

Plasma lighting pioneer calls in the administrators

A two-storey factory on an industrial estate
Milton Keynes-based Ceravision, which patented the world's first high efficiency plasma (HEP) lighting system, has gone into administration

ONE OF the UK’s most innovative lighting companies has been put into administration.

The High Court of Justice has appointed insolvency practitioners and corporate recovery specialist Begbies Traynor as administrators of Milton Keynes-based Ceravision, which patented the world’s first high efficiency plasma (HEP) lighting system.

The high-power system was initially developed as a high-output alternative to LED technology, and the company targeted large-area applications such as warehouses and factories. 

However, the increasing efficiency and falling prices of LEDs meant sales of plasma lighting were slow.

In recent years, the company had been targeting the horticulture sector as the  spectrum of plasma lighting contains the ultra-violet light blocked by greenhouse glass and unavailable from other grow-lights.

The company was heavily dependent on venture capital and received funding under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), which offered investors 20 per cent tax relief if they held shares in the company for three years. 

The Alvara was one of Ceravision’s flagship plasma luminaires

At one stage, the company counted Ann Summers chief executive Jacqueline Gold and her husband among its investors.

Plasma has long interested scientists and the lighting industry as a possible commercial light source. 

It requires two components: a magnetron – a radio-frequency (RF) driver that creates an electrical field – and a light emitter. 

These two components are connected by the generated electrical field; there is no wired connection as the light emitter is excited by induction.

Light is created when the radio-frequency signal created by the RF driver is focused via a waveguide into the small quartz glass vial that is the light emitter. 

This emitter contains a gaseous mixture that determines the colour and brightness of the illumination.

The focused energy field ionizes the gas and the resulting atomic interaction raises the energy state of the electrons, forming a column of plasma within the light emitter. That plasma column in turn radiates visible light.

The small size of the light emitter enables efficient control of the light beam.

Further, the mixture of elements within the light emitter provides for very high colour quality, typically in excess of Ra90.

The ability to mix elements also provides for specialist applications such as horticulture and UV treatments.

Light output from plasma light engines are high, with the lowest available wattage being around 300W.

Light engines have a luminous efficacy ranging from 60lm/W to above 100lm/W.