In an interesting collaboration the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan, the U.S. Office of Naval Research Global (ONR), and MERSTech brings a design of a system that controls electrical flow for lighting, a highly efficient platform that may spark a new era of power savings.
The design comes form the Tokyo Institute and was fine tuned by MERSTech in a partnership effort operated by the Naval Research office in Tokyo and is called the Magnetic Energy Recovery Switch or “MERS”. The MERS harnesses and recycles residual magnetic power that is produced by electrical current. By using a device that controls the flow of electricity, florescent light bulbs can now maximize their potential. The proposal for the expanded experiment is scheduled for completion in October.
Dr. Chandra Curtis, program officer in ONR Global’s Tokyo office, reports she is excited about the potential for mass consumption savings saying, “We initially started by helping [MERSTech and the Tokyo Institute of Technology] optimize the development and assess the potential of the technology. Now, we are looking for ways to demonstrate our commitment of energy savings to the Japanese government.”
This technology directly fits with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’ goals for the Department of the Navy, which were set at the 2009 Naval Energy Forum. Beyond utilizing renewable power sources for at least half of the shore-based energy on Navy bases, Mabus iterated a goal to ensure that at least 40 percent of the Navy’s total energy consumption comes from alternative sources by 2020.
From April to June 2010, ONR Global funded a series of experiments at Tokyo’s Hardy Barracks Installation to analyze and evaluate the energy saving capability of the MERS lighting controller. After working with several overhead fluorescent lights that require 24-hour power, the scientists proved that the MERS technology significantly reduced lighting energy consumption.
“After the testing was complete, we learned that with the new device installed there was a peak power saving of 39 percent,” Curtis said. “The device not only conserves electricity, but produces far less heat and produces less electromagnetic interference than conventional technologies.”
A magnetic recovery switch is in essence a shock absorber. Built with MOSFETS or IGBT elements and a DC capacitor an MERS is installed just like as a full bridge configuration. When inserted in series between the generator source and an ac to dc converter used in florescent lighting the capacitor absorbs the magnetic energy stored in the synchronous inductance by forced LC resonance. The MERS compensates the reactance voltage of the synchronous generator by the capacitor voltage, thus the output voltage of the generator increases and the excitation current of the generator can be extremely reduced. There’s the source of the energy savings.
The power factor is automatically improved regardless of the impedance and power frequency of load. On the other side MERS have been shown to work well in generators such as those used in wind turbines.
Meanwhile the artists of scam have picked up on the words used to describe the system and offer a plethora of free energy deals. You’re now warned.
As it stands today a MERS as seen in the photo above is a bulky item subject to commercial miniaturization and optimization. That’s something the Japanese excel at and get going quickly, too. The opening round in the market will bring interesting price information.
Keep in mind that a MERS goes between the power source and the ac/dc transformer so a MERS should have a very long life, perhaps lasting for many florescent bulbs or the life of a fixture. That at near 40% less power needed is quite encouraging.
The possible game changer is still LEDs. But the battle with a near 40% cut in power for florescent looks to be very interesting. Florescent can be rigged for lots of lumens cheap, something that LED is still quite far from and perhaps won’t get there competitively.
The MERS in functional configuration is good news and cooperation with an important ally with the US Department of Defense for the common welfare a welcome story as well.