UC Davis is harvesting more than just vegetables this spring.
The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) has recently licensed the commercialization of several inventions that work to reduce the cost and increase the dependability of daylight harvesting systems.
The co-exclusive license agreements were with Watt Stopper/ Legrand, a Santa Clara-based company that manufactures energy-efficient lighting controls and sensors, and Axis Technologies Inc., which both designs and manufactures a line of energy-saving and daylight harvesting devices.
Daylight harvesting systems use sensors to control indoor lighting in response to changes in natural daylight. By conserving energy at certain points of the day, it is possible to save anywhere from approximately 33.3 to 50 percent of energy used, according to CLTC associate director Konstantinos Papamichael. The numbers vary depending on the size and shape of the building.
There are three main areas in which there are new technological advances in the licensed inventions. First, the CLTC daylight harvesting system automatically dims or switches indoor lighting in response to sensor data about the availability of daylight. This self-calibrating system negates the need for professional, potentially expensive adjustments.
The second advancement is improved light detection. By using multiple sensors instead of one, the system is able to identify the amount of ambient daylight in a room more accurately.
The final advancement is an increase in the customization level of sensitivity. Through the use of photo sensors, light measurements can be detected both directly and from an angle.
The licensed inventions not only save money but are relatively inexpensive to install and maintain as well.
“The lower cost is not because of the technology, but because you don’t need an expensive engineer to set it up,” Papamichael said.
Both Watt Stopper/Legrand and Axis Technologies Inc. focus their products toward commercial environments, such as offices and workspaces. As a result, CLTC researchers are currently working with the companies to create commercial prototypes of the licensed inventions.
“What we do is try to make the commercial prototypes fail, and if we fail to make them fail, then we have a winner,” Konstantinos said.
The technology has been under development for several years by a team of researchers at the CLTC, which was established through a joint effort by UC Davis and the Public Interest Energy Research program of the California Energy Commission in 2004. It aims to encourage the use of energy-efficient lighting technology, according the CLTC mission statement.
“It’s been a very prolific center for new inventions related to lighting,” said executive director of InnovationAccess David Mcgee.
InnovationAccess manages the licensing issues on behalf of the university. It is part of the UC Davis Office of Research and provides services that work to patent, protect and commercialize intellectual property that emerges from campus research.
The Watt Stopper/Legrand co-exclusive agreement was signed Sept. 11, 2007, and the Axis Technologies Inc. agreement was signed Feb. 14, 2008, Mcgee said. Due to the terms of the UC Patent Policy, he was unable to reveal the financial details of the licenses.
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