NORTHPORT, NY (March 1, 2006) – With assistance from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP), Sailors Solutions, Inc., a provider of innovative and unique marine products to boaters and sailors, has created the Sensibulb™, a soft white LED light source that will light boat and RV interiors without seriously depleting battery power.
SATOP provides free engineering assistance to small businesses with technical challenges through the expertise of the program’s Alliance Partners, 50 aerospace companies and universities involved in the U.S. Space Program.
Nicholas Cancro and Mike Appolonia, founders of Sailors Solutions, discovered a Japanese company that makes very efficient LEDs. LEDs do not get hot and are not a fire hazard like halogen bulbs on board a vessel, but they do have very specific thermal limits that can’t be exceeded. “We designed a circuit that would keep the LEDs from becoming too warm while still operating at full brightness,” said Cancro. “We wanted to do everything we could to extract as much heat as possible and needed a recommendation of a lightweight heat-sink material.”
After hearing about SATOP from a friend who read about the outreach program in a newspaper article, Cancro filed a Request for Technical Assistance (RTA) with SATOP’s New York office in Syracuse.
Sailors Solution was paired with Jeffrey Robles, a Level II Engineer in the International Space Station Loads & Dynamic Group of The Boeing Company at Johnson Space Center. The Boeing Company is one of SATOP’s Alliance Partners.
“Sailors Solutions had already solved the challenge of creating a high intensity discharge LED that generates the equivalent lighting of a 10 watt halogen bulb lamp,” Robles said. “The next challenge was to find a suitable heat-sink material for the LED’s heat rejection needs while keeping costs low enough to make the product’s price attractive to consumers.”
Robles determined that aluminum was the best lightweight heat-sink material and gave Cancro several additional recommendations to improve the LED’s ability to reject heat. Among his suggestions: increase the surface of the heat sink by thinning down the fins to take advantage of radiation; change the direction of the fins so that heat would flow out more efficiently; and change the color of the heat sink from black to silver.
After implementing Robles’ suggestions, Cancro is highly confident in the Sensibulb’s capabilities. “We now have a super efficient lighting source to replace regular light bulbs,” he said. “It can be plugged into fixtures that previously held filament bulbs, uses only .14 amps instead of 0.9 amps for a regular bulb and that’s more than 600 percent less battery usage, and costs only $39.95. The Sensibulb will last 50,000 hours, which should be about the ownership lifetime of a boat. We are very excited about this product – it’s a real breakthrough.”
For Cancro, working with Robles on Sensibulb has resulted in Sailors Solutions at last finding energy efficient interior boat and RV lighting. “We’re always trying to bring our customers products that feature unique technologies they won’t find anywhere else,” said Cancro. “Now we know that as we continue on that mission, we’ll be able to turn to SATOP for help if we need it.”