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OLEDWorks to test lighting in $1M project

OLEDWorks LLC has kicked off a more than $1 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The gateway demonstration project is designed to test the latest technology in commercial lighting in hopes of bringing to market a more efficient energy source that could create manufacturing jobs across the state.

The project is underway at the new headquarters of Rochester accounting firm DeJoy, Knauf & Blood LLC, located in Tower280. David DeJoy, managing partner, is also CEO at OLEDWorks. He joined fellow co-founders John Hamer and Michael Boroson when they needed help in setting up a business plan and securing investors as OLEDWorks began in 2011.

“Fast forward now to 2016 and Dave wants his new offices in Tower280 to be a showcase for organic light emitting diode,” said John Hamer, chief operating officer at OLEDWorks.

OLED panels are made from organic, carbon-based materials that emit light when electricity is applied through them. The company creates the panels used in lighting fixtures.

As a gateway demonstration site for the Energy Department, the accounting firm’s Tower280 office installed a mixture of fixtures with standard LED and OLED lighting. Over the course of the next six months, the agency will make observations and measure energy use.

The gateway demonstrations allow for evaluation and actual experience that cannot be matched in a lab setting, which provides useful data, officials said.

“It will involve readings from our prior space on State Street compared to our new space here following the move,” said DeJoy, noting there are monitors placed on lighting fixtures to measure energy consumption. “We see this as an important technology development opportunity for Rochester.”

The Energy Department is to write a report on its findings.

“The report will be published and enable others to know the technology is available and reliable,” Hamer said. “We expect that will help us grow the industry.”

The exposure of the project at the DeJoy, Knauf & Blood office will help, too, said Boroson, chief technology officer at OLEDWorks.

“Dave’s customers will see the technology in use first-hand,” Boroson said. “We’re the only U.S. company making OLED panels, and we’re trying to encourage more people to use them.”

NYSERDA agreed to fund the project to improve the performance and reduce the cost of OLEDs.

“The cost is high and the penetration is low right now,” said Joseph Borowiec, program manager of advanced buildings at NYSERDA. “Through projects like this, we’re working to bring this innovative technology to market. We see the potential, and as it grows it will create a demand for these panels and in turn create jobs.”

OLED is five times more efficient than incandescent lighting, Borowiec estimates, which is comparable to the efficiency of LED.

OLED is not less expensive than standard LED lighting, but Borowiec predicts the cost will come down as OLED moves to higher production.

“Ten years ago LED light bulbs cost $25. Today they sell for $2 a piece,” Borowiec said. “It’s the trend of any technology. It takes time, but the price will come down.”

A major difference experts cite between LED and OLED is a harsh glare associated with LED lights.

It is the reason for a project thatNYSERDA and OLEDWorks plan to start in the coming weeks at Highland Hospital that is expected to last a year. A pending grant for $100,645 is behind a demonstration at the hospital, Borowiec said, that will quantify the benefits of a white and amber OLED prototype developed by OLEDWorks.

Amber OLEDs are free of blue wavelengths found in regular LEDs that are known to disrupt sleep patterns, Hamer said. The new lighting technology is beneficial to hospitals because the amber lighting will not wake patients as doctors and nurses work around them, allowing for better sleep.

“We think this research project will be important in showing the role lights play in health, wellness and how you feel,” Hamer said.

Opportunity for growth in senior care is apparent, he said.

There are other benefits in OLED technology that both projects could highlight, Boroson said.

“OLED lighting is fully dimmable. That’s not the case in all lighting technology,” he said. “It is also a high color light source where colors are reproduced accurately. It’s not like fluorescent lighting where a dress looks one color in the store and then looks different in the sunlight outside.”

NYSERDA is funding one other OLED technology project through a $488,000 grant to Long Island-based LED Specialists Inc. The company manufactures components for integrating OLED technology into light fixtures.

11/18/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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