Tuesday, March 31, 2009

FireBird has New Wood Boiler


New Lump-Wood Gasification Boiler
from FireBird

FireBird Boilers in Ballymakeera Co Cork has just announced their new lump wood gasification boiler. I saw the prototype of this boiler when I visited the factory last year but promised not to disclose details until it was announced.

It is a fairly large boiler both in physical size and rating. It is rated at 35Kw about twice what the average modern insulated house now needs. The physical size of the boiler is 1300mm High x 1235mm deep, and having a width of 685mm.

While the boiler is itself quite large, it does require an insulated heat accumulation tank of some 1700 Litres, and that is a monster of a tank.

The boiler will not be really suitable for retro fitting in the average house as a replacement for an oil boiler. It would suit a house that has a large garage space or a very large boiler room.

I see the market for this boiler with farmers. Anyone who has a ready supply of timber would do well to consider this boiler provided that they can accommodate the very large size of the installation.

The boiler can handle large half metre long logs. It has a super high efficiency of 91% when properly installed and tuned!!! In most cases it requires very little tending. Cleaning of ash at most every 3 to 4 days and in many cases less than weekly.

A full load of logs burning at the very maximum output will last for 5 hours. In realistic settings this could be 2 to 3 time longer. The boiler can maintain the fire on glow for 12 hours.

The boiler is SEI approved - don't know yet what grants it might qualify for. I will get back with prices and further details in due course.

FireBird contact details:

Tel: 026-45253


Friday, March 27, 2009

Dr Know on Plurion


A Report on Plurion et al
Doctor Know

Dear Tony,

Your blog has, at various times, featured news about Plurion Systems Ltd. So here, should you be interested, is some sort of update.

At the end of 2007, ITI Scotland disposed of its interest in Plurion, which was bought back by AIC (Applied Intellectual Capital), the company (more or less) which sold it to ITI back in 2005. ITI's judgement, one must assume, is that it saw no viable future for this technology. AIC itself, an AIM stockmarket quoted company, issued fresh shares in July 2008.

These lost some 90% of their value within weeks. AIC then suffered a calamitous fall in share price. At the end, shares which had peaked around £3 were trading at 0.5 pence. At this point (Feb. 2009), AIC de-listed from the AIM stockmarket. It was also at this time that we learned that although AIC had bought Plurion back from ITI, they hadn't in fact paid for it. ITI allowed first one, then a second deferral of payment. The latest due date is understood to be 1 July 2009.

A senior Plurion executive who posted on your blog, promised that major hardware would be delivered to customer "in Q4/08 or Q1/09". There is no indication that this promise was met. AIC continue to issue warm words to the effect that the problems (whatever they were) are being solved, and state that they will be "pursuing new investors".

No actual technical information on Plurion technology appears to have been released since 2002. As far as we know, everyone who invested in Plurion or AIC has made very substantial losses. These facts, as well as a copy of the company's latest accounts, are available in various Reuters News Service announcements, on behalf of the London Stock Exchange


The AIC Redox Biofuels project (electrochemical oxidation of biomass) hasn't done much better. Much was made of their forming a partnership with Mitsubishi. In recent months, it was quietly announced that Mitsubishi have pulled out - presumably because, like ITI Scotland, they formed their own unfavourable assessment.

The third "energy" project in the AIC portfolio is BLAB - Bipolar Lead Acid Battery, now apparently being configured in 42V form for electric bicycles with a possible Chinese partner. No technical information has been released on this project either, but patent lawyers are known to be studying the AIC patents closely. It is hard to see how these can be reconciled with the earlier Atraverda patents in the same field - the two are very similar but the Atraverda ones have priority.

One doesn't enjoy taking a negative stance and you and your excellent blog have taken a fair amount of flak for your honest approach. Sadly, the pessimistic predictions regarding Plurion, including those by myself, have pretty much been fulfilled. One can only hope that not too many fresh investors will be induced to part with their money to these most ambitious but notably unsuccessful entrepreneurs.

With kind regards

"Dr Know"

(Many thanks to Dr. Know for this update. Dr. Know, who's full details are known to me, has contributed to this blog several times. He wishes to remain anonymous and I fully respect this wish.)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Good the LED and the Ugly comment


LED v/s Halogen
A Comment

I just received a timely, interesting and informative comment on an earlier post about LEDs v/s Halogen from "Dong" who does not identify him/herself. (I wonder if that by any chance is Ding's brother) - (sorry about that - I just couldn't resist it)

I decided that the comment is worthy of a full posting so here it is:


Well, judging from the way it is, I must confess I was once also mislead into believing that a 3 or 5 or 7 Watt LED MR16 can replace a 50Watt Halogen. There is no way possible!

However, it strikes an interest to me, as I go on deeper into the technical world of LED lighting. First, we must understand that manufacturer’s claims on their LED products are totally not 100% accurate, and some are in fact way too misleading. From my understanding, the higher Wattage does not make the LED any brighter nor efficiency.

In LED, we must refer to the lumens per watt (lm/W), and currently CREE has the commercially highest rated lm in the market, 100lm/Watt. Thus a one Watt CREE LED can be brighter compared to the 5Watt Taiwan made or china made LED, which most probably managed 50-70lm/W. I have therefore bought some 3Watt CREE LED MR16, and true enough, they are bright enough to really replace a 20Watt Halogen, and it will be a matter of time before they can replace a 35Watt halogen.

With regards to replacing a 50Watt Halogen MR16 with LED, as far as I understand, there is only one company that have actually produce a LED in the form of dichloric MR16, and REALLY pumping in lumens that matched the 50Watt Halogen! I personally tested it, and I was really amazed by it. The unique design, with their proprietary optic lens that equals the beam angle of 3 most common angle of the MR16 (20 Degree, 35 Degree and 60 Degree) definitely deserve my thumbs up.

This is by far, the brightest LED product I have ever lay my hands on, that can replace a 50Watt Halogen MR16. The simple features that allows us to do a one to one replacement without changing our existing fixtures, or doing any modification works to our ceiling, terming it simplicity at its best!

Dong did not say who the company are - I wonder???


Monday, March 16, 2009

Earth Hour - VOTE for EARTH



Use you Light Switch
to Vote YES
for the Planet

A timely reminder that this year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming.

WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.

We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.

VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.
Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm.

Just Do It!!!!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Good the LED and the Ugly part 2



One of the Worst examples
of a LED lamp I have experienced to date

This post contains the first LED lamp comparison test. In this test, if you can call it a test proper, I simply want to show one of the very worst examples of LED lamps I have in my possession.

These MR16 bulbs were bought on EBay from a dealer called “william6”. See the photo above. I quickly complained that the lamps were sold as “soft white” where in fact the ones I received are VERY blue in the spectrum. The dealer promised to replace the lamps but so far I am still waiting for replacements!!

The blueness of the colour is not what I am writing about here. Instead, I am looking at the almost complete deterioration of light output of one of the bulbs in just 3 months of normal use.

The bulbs were purchased on 8th of December last; the EBay sales confirmation is reproduced here:

We hope you enjoy your purchase. Your payment has been received for the following item:

Item title: 2 x 48 LED SOFT White Spot Light Bulb Lamp 12V MR16 u
Web Address: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290280181561
Item number: 290280181561
Buyer User ID: xxxxxxxxxxx
Seller User ID: william6.trade
Your total: £10.70

The type of bulb is a multi LED MR16 purporting to replace a 50watt halogen bulb. The light output of a brand new bulb barely reaches that of a 20 watt halogen. It does not come even remotely close to a 50 watt.

I used one bulb in a fitting in my office for 3 months, and the other bulb remained unused until the test shown here.

The new bulb is on the left - The 3 month old one on the right!

This is a bog basic visual test. In fact, you don’t need any measurements of any type to clearly see that the light output of the used bulb is half or less of the new bulb, and that the colour has drifted a long way into the blue/violet spectrum. This is a bulb which has been used for, at most, 1200 hours!!!

The 3 month old bulb is now nothing more that a novelty and is just about useless for any practical purpose. The new bulb is also just a museum piece to display as an example of the worst type of LED lamp I have encountered.

My advice, be very slow to buy multi-LED type bulbs and don’t buy LED bulbs on the Internet.

The guy is still selling the same bulbs! I have written to him advising that he remove these lamps from sale. I hope he will listen!!



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Good the LED and the Ugly


A (somewhat) critical look at
LED Replacement Lamps
for Domestic and Business Applications


This post is by way of an introduction to several posts I intend to publish on LED lighting. I hope to give some comparative feedback on products I have tried myself, and I hope to give some illustrative comparisons between types of lights.

There has recently been what can only be described as a flood of LED replacement lamps on the market purporting to be direct replacements for existing bulbs. The most common offerings in this respect are replacements for the small spotlights found in down-lighters, ceiling spots, etc. The types most commonly found in Ireland are the 12 volt MR16 or the mains voltage GU10 type bulb.

The MR16 and GU10 LED replacement lamps tend to come in two general types; one with lots of little LED bulbs packed together, and the other with one or more larger LED elements mounted on a metal heatsink and generally using a lens to focus the light.

I have tried several of both types, and can say that the quality varies a great deal indeed. LED lamps are far – far from being a well developed consumer product – it is really not a time to rush out and buy lots of LEDs. The type most likely to be a cause of great of dissatisfaction is the multi-led type of bulb. I have been testing one such bulb, and after only a couple of hundred hours of use it has lost about 50% of its brightness – it is a total dead loss!!

I came across a very interesting article by Kevin Willmorth of Lumenique http://www.lumenique.com , in which he authoritatively discusses the serious shortfallings of the tiny 5mm LEDs used in many of these bulbs.

Here is an extract (a large one!) re-published with permission:

5mm LEDs Generally Unsuitable for General Illumination
Posted in Reviewed - Poor Performers by kwillmorth on November 30th, 2008

The 5mm LED has been around for a very long time. These are the small LED “lamps” found in virtually all low quality and novelty LED products.

For general illumination, where demands for significant lumen output, long service life and consistent color and lumen output are necessary, the 5mm LED is simply inadequate to the task. The large number of low end products on the market using 5mm LEDs marketed with unsupportable performance claims and very poor performance makes sorting the good from the bad is virtually impossible. Because of this, the best approach is to reject all products using this form of LED outright in favor of packaged LED products.

Customers perceptions formed from disappointment with the performance of low quality 5mm LED products will hurt the entire LED market, and slow adoption overall.

Packaged LED devices, or “lamps”, mounted to proper metal clad circuit boards and thermally inductive heat sinks will out perform 5mm LED devices in lumen output, lumen maintenance, and service life, by a large margin.

Unfortunately, counterfeit LEDs that are made to look like quality products have begun to infiltrate the market. However, when compared to the volume of poor performing 5mm LEDs in the market, the best bet is to select a product using packaged LEDs.

For energy savings, the only value products that depend on 5mm LEDs offer is low total wattage. These devices have an efficacy that is no better than incandescent lamps, and far less than fluorescent, regardless of claims made on packaging.

rapid degradation of light

The reality is that virtually all of the claims of energy saving are based on the low wattage rating of the products, and not on actual equivalent light output. Virtually all claims of improvement over fluorescent lamps are false, as the 5mm LED is simply not able to produce the same lumen output, and rarely equal life. Claims to equal the light of MR16, PAR and R lamps in output are dubious, and based on initial values only, and are always overstated. As the product is put in use, the rapid degradation of light output will soon degrade their serviceability.

Packaged LED devices, with proper thermal control, offer a significant performance advantage over 5mm LEDs, incandescent, halogen, and many CFLs, along with far longer life, greater lumen maintenance, superior optical control, and far greater color consistency. For energy efficiency applications, there is no better choice than high quality, high and medium output packaged LED devices.

The graphic (above) illustrates the range of performance one can expect from 5mm LEDs (yellow area), and high brightness packaged LED devices (blue area). Where typical 5mm LEDs will have lost 50% of their light at around 8,000 hours of life, HB packaged LED products will maintain 70% of their light output at 50,000 hours.

The original article can be found here:


Its author Kevin Willmorth’s contact details are here:

Kevin Willmorth
Lumenique, LLC
N112 W16298 Mequon Road, No 120
Germantown, WI 53022


Saturday, March 07, 2009

LED Lighting


Looking at LED Lights

I will be having a go at evaluating some new LED lights fairly soon. Liam Ellis of Vario Lighting sent me a very interesting LED bulb some weeks ago. I am very impressed with the light from this little bulb uses a total of 7 watts and gives a great blast of light for the power. I have some other bulbs arriving in the next week.

I have invested in two little gizmos since my last look at lighting. These two meters will hopefully help to make my reviews a little more scientific. The top one is a light meter and the other is a watt meter or power meter.

Looking forward to playing with the LEDs and my new toys!


Friday, March 06, 2009

Save Money with Airtricity


"Save up to 13% when you switch your home
to green electricity"

you don't have to be a gas customer!

It is great to hear of energy prices coming down for once! The ESB has just announced a 10% price cut - at long last.

But there is even better news on the horizon, Airtricity, an Irish - Scottish consortium, operating mainly in wind generation, has just launched it's bid for a share of the domestic electricity market in Ireland. It is offering as the add shouts; "up to 13%" discount on ESB prices.

I had an interesting conversation with Airtricity's media man Peter Lord. I will shortly write up a piece with the information I gleaned. I am waiting for Peter to come back to me on a couple of points.