All the blogs are covering the Hydralux-4 liquid cooled LED being distributed by EternalLEDs. Ariel at Fast Company thinks it won't be an instant hit; Wired just craps all over it, saying "We don’t really see the advantage of this over other LED bulbs. If Eternal LEDs had put a mini lava-lamp inside, though, we’d be happy to pay the $35."
Or, this might be a real breakthrough. We did a patent search.
The abstract describes:
A high power LED lamp comprises a container having a cavity to fill with a liquid, a light source module for providing a high power LED source light to penetrate through the liquid, and an axial thermal conductor having a first portion nearby the light source module and a second portion extending in the liquid along an axial direction of the cavity to far away from the light source module to evenly transfer heat from the light source module through the liquid to the container.
In the background of the invention, Kun-Yuan Chang explains the problem:
Due to its long lifetime, power saving and environmental protection, LED has been widely used in decoratives lamps... However it is still not suitable for illumination purpose since the brightness per unit power consumpion it generates is not high enough, the heat dissipation it is provided with is not efficient enough, and the emission angle of the light it radiates is not wide enough.
The inventor then goes through the prior art, explaining that LEDs are usually mounted on a plate to dissipate heat, limiting the angle of the light to no more than 180 degrees, how the conventional cooling system of metal fins is expensive and limiting.
..Then the light souce module warms up, the axial thermal conductor evenly transfers heat from the light source module throught the liquid to the container. As a result it attained fast and great heat dissipation for the light source module.
The liquid enhances the heat dissipation, spreads the lighting angle and increases the brightness...It is a low cost approach, which costs only 1/5 to 1/10th than the conventional fins. When the light emitted by the light source module penetrates through the liquid, it is diffused to spread the lighting angle, and the total reflection between the liquid and the container may have light focusing effect and increase the brightness.
Prior art: LEDs are mounted on metal plate, limiting the light distribution
So what we appear to have here is a high-output bulb that can screw into a standard edison socket, uses paraffin or other oil that doesn't conduct electricity (the patent also covers olive oil! That would be a truly green bulb.) to dissipate the heat so that metal plates don't block the distribution of light, and you can add dyes to the oil to tune the colour temperature of the bulb.
Sounds like a pretty impressive improvement in the technology to me.
More Light Emitting Diodes:
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New LED Bulbs by Sharp Can be Remotely Tuned Between 7 Shades of White