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Green semiconductor advice goes beyond the chip

Cradle-to-cradle thinking

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Using RGB LEDs rather than white LEDs could drop power needs by 85 per cent when compared to today's backlighting, and adding ambient light sensors that adjust overall light output in relation to room lighting could drop needed power even further.

Lighting: according to Penning de Vries: "20 per cent of electricity produced globally is used for lighting; changing from incandescent lamps to compact flourescent [CFL] or tube lights [TL] can save 80 per cent of this."

"It's time to phase out Edison's invention," he said.

CFL technology remains rather primitive, and much could be accomplished by adding smart circuitry to their design, including such niceties as "compatibility with conventional phase-cut dimmer controls."

LED lighting offers comparable efficiency gains, and has the added benefits of long life (up to 30,000 hours) and low voltage requirements. Unfortunately, as Penning de Vries noted, LED lighting is still far too expensive for conventional use, and there are still color-temperature hurdles to overcome.

Cars: A full 50 per cent of all liquid fuel goes to transport, according to Penning de Vries - and that's despite the fact that fuel consumption per-car has decreased by 35 per cent over the past 30 years.

The IEA projects that "light-duty vehicles" - cars - could achieve another 50 per cent reduction by 2030 using smarter electronic control, more-efficient hybrids, and such driving aids as "adaptive cruise control using radar and lane-change sensors."

Electrical cars are all well and good, said Penning de Vries, but the source of their electricity can make them less efficient than even hybrid vehicles. A fully electric car that gets its juice from a coal-fired power plant has worse "cradle to cradle" energy efficiency than a hybrid, he said.

He also pointed out that while hybrid cars grab the headlines there are a multitude of electronic improvements yet to be made in conventional cars, such as moving from hydraulic to electrical systems in such components as transmissions and power steering, and installing electronic sensors in tires to monitor under-inflation. These, he claimed, account for "around five per cent of total motoring energy loss in the US."

Weight reduction could also benefit from moving all automotive wiring to a digital-network model. Penning de Vries said that a current "high-end" car's wiring harness can weigh between 40 to 80Kg. Since every 50Kg of weight reduction can save a tenth of a liter of fuel for every 100Km driven, weight-reduction efficiencies could add up quickly.

In conclusion, Penning de Vries said that: "The coming decades will see IC innovation with much greater focus on 'leaner and greener' applications. We will witness an evolution from low power for long battery life to low overall power consumption.

"The semiconductor industry - as other industries - can and will play its part in the drive to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, and help reduce climate change."

And, of course, the industry will also design, manufacture, and sell a lot of new semiconductor-based products. ®

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