Contributed by: C. David Chaffee, Chaffee Fiber Optics
Dave Irvine-Halliday, founder of the Light Up The World Foundation, led yesterday’s Green Photonics show—OIDA’s OPTOmism Executive Forum and Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.—with a powerful and touching story of how his organization is helping poor people around the world through renewable technologies.
Irvine-Halliday, who sacrificed his career as a photonics engineer to start the foundation, helps the poor light their homes by providing solar panels or other renewable solutions so they can stop paying for expensive kerosene.
“We have projects all over the world—India, Nepal, South Africa, wherever people want us to go,” Irvine-Halliday said at yesterday's keynote. He described himself as a “social entrepreneur.”
According to Irvine-Halliday, people buy 100 billion liters per year of kerosene, which, besides being difficult for poor people to afford, produces lots of carbon dioxide.
“We try to get the renewable energy tools in the country we are visiting,” says Irvine-Halliday. “It is much easier to get the tools in Sri Lanka if that is the population we are helping, rather than going to Sri Lanka with solar equipment made in Calgary.”
The Foundation started in 1997, and first demonstrated how it would work in 1999. It started lighting homes in India in 2000, according to Irvine-Halliday.
Irvine-Halliday was trained as a photonics engineer with particular skills in fiber optic sensing and biophotonics. “My skill set matched the requirements of the job,” he told us.
“We know we can't light the entire world,” said Irvine-Halliday. “But we also know people cannot see their way out of the poverty trap in the darkness.”
There are currently five people in the Foundation. “We are always open to volunteers,” said Irvine-Halliday. Irvine-Halliday received a prolonged and thunderous ovation at the end of his presentation.
OIDA director Lebby says DOE’s Chu will help photonics efforts
The photonics industry will greatly benefit as the result of Steven Chu’s being named as Secretary of Energy, according to Michael Lebby, executive director of the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA).
“The development of LEDs, solid state lighting and optical sensing will all benefit from his enlightened leadership,” Lebby told us.
However, Lebby expressed concern about whether optical communications will get the help it needs. “It has not traditionally been under DOE’s banner.”
Lebby expressed concern that copper-based solutions will be approved for unserved areas as part of the broadband stimulus program. “I have not seen a drive for optically based solutions to the unserved,” said Lebby. Policy makers need to understand that fiber optics provides the best means for providing essential services like telemedicine to the unserved. “These are life-saving opportunities,” he stressed. “We need to roll out technology that is future proof.”
Penzias discusses “optical enablers of green investments”
Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias, who now directs venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, cited a variety of “optical enablers of green investments” during his speech here at OIDA’s Green Photonics show yesterday.
“Optical technology applications provide faster and less power-hungry computing,” said Penzias. He cited the move to silicon photonics as being a new, promising technology for computers. Penzias also believes optical active cables can help reduce energy in places like data centers.“There are very few things in the world cheaper than glass,” said Penzias. “I guess that is why people coat buildings in it.”
Penzias commented on the four leading thin film photovoltaic technologies as follows: 1) Cadmium telluride is “the cost leader” with effectiveness of 10 percent plus; 2) Amorphous silicon costs less than crystalline and is “very easy to make;” 3) copper-indium-gallium solenoid (CIGS) offers “the highest thin film efficiency with one company reaching 13.5 percent;” and 4) dye-based, photovoltaic ink printed plastic is light weight and can produce 6 W of power.
Penzias predicted that “we are going to see extraordinary improvements in batteries in the next four years.”
Raprid growth seen for distributed fiber optics sensors
The market for distributed fiber optic sensors will grow from about $220 million last year to more than $1 billion in 2012, according to David Krohn, managing partner of Light Wave Venture LLC.
The LIDAR wind sensor market and sensors for spectroscopy both have the potential to grow because of fiber optics, Krohn said.
The fiber optics sensor market for oil and gas may have a CAGR (combined annual growth rate) of 30 percent plus. The market size depends on how much a barrel of oil costs. “For the market to work, oil must be in the $70 to $90 per barrel range,” Krohn said. “I believe this will happen by the end of this year.”
However he believes the use of fiber optics sensors in power plants will grow at the more modest rate of seven percent.Krohn praised the efforts of the OIDA sensor consortium, which he says now has more than 50 members.
John Coates, president of Coates Consulting, said UV visible sensors have the potential to cost less than $200; near IR sensors cost less than $25; Raman sensors cost less than $1,000; mid-IR spectral detectors cost less than $1,000; and MEMS FTIR sensors cost less than $5,000.
“For sensing systems to be effective, they need to be heavily deployed,” said Coates. He sees sensors for personal use as a huge, coming market.
Mikko Jaaskelainen, CTO of Sensortran, said temperature change can have a huge impact on a fiber optic sensing system. “A 50 percent change in temperature will decrease the life of the fiber optic cable by 75 percent,” he said.
Samir Seth, vice president for Fiber Optics Business Development at Petroleum GeoServices, a company that has annual revenues of $1.9 billion and does most of its work below the water’s surface, said the company’s fiber optics links “allow you to see further into the reservoir.” Added Seth: “It makes the data better. Oil companies are often flying blind.” He did not have collaborating quantitative data, however.
The company’s OPTOSEIS 4D4C fiber optics seismic process is designed for deep water and is completely passive, according to Seth. The company trenches the optical fiber cable to about three feet below the sea floor. The process uses a Michelson interferometer. The signal is sent and returned through the cable and the phase difference provides information to the operator.
“What we help the oil companies do is reduce uncertainty in their decisions,” Seth says. “In a place like the Arctic, you may spend $1 billion in order to get $2 billion or $3 billion worth of oil,” he observes.
“We are the first to test an all-fiber-optics, sea-floor system,” says Seth, who notes that the process may include DWDM telemetry. The company uses Faraday rotating mirrors in its systems. Seth says the decision about when or whether to pull the cable up from the ocean floor belongs to the oil company.