Mercury-free Lighting

Mercury-free Lighting

The mercury arc lamp has long been used as a light source for fluorescence microscopy. Almost every new research or clinical grade fluorescence microscope is equipped with a mercury arc lamp. However, mercury arc lamps are hazardous, consume a lot of energy, have a high cost of ownership and are unreliable. Metal halide doped mercury arc lamps have become widely employed because they address the reliability concerns around traditional mercury bulbs, increasing bulb longevity ten times. However the cost of a metal halide bulb is typically about five times that of a mercury bulb of equivalent radiant power, offsetting much of the potential savings in bulb replacement costs. Ozone-free Xenon sources have no mercury, reducing the amount of hazardous waste, but they perform at a lower intensity. Solid-state technologies like LED illumination have the potential to solve all the concerns associated with the use of mercury, but LEDs alone have yet to achieve the brightness needed for microscopy. Thus, the use of mercury lamps has remained a necessary and wide-spread source of mercury in research laboratories for decades. Lumencor has overcome the frustration associated with this dependence on mercury and has revolutionized the solid-state technology world by manufacturing Light Engines capable of replicating and exceeding the spectral properties of the mercury arc lamp. In so doing, Lumencor has obviated the toxic disadvantages previously associated with microscopy. Light Engines allow scientists to utilize high-performance, solid-state, sustainable lighting solutions in clean, safe laboratories using mercury free microscopes.

Mercury Content

Mercury Content in Bulbs

Only the light engine is MERCURY free. Calculations demonstrate that a single light engine can replace 15-150 mercury containing bulbs. This assumes that the mercury arc lamp is ignited but idle during half the time it is in the ON state. The table below illustrates the amount of mercury contained within these sources. The mercury is the equivalent of 9762 CFL bulbs and the metal halide lamp is the equivalent of 1242 CFL bulbs. By comparison the light engine eliminates nearly all potential mercury hazards associated with the use of illumination in scientific equipment while providing the superior performance that has come to be expected from solid-state sources.

Statistic Mercury arc lamp Metal halide lamp Light engine
Bulbs 150 15 0.00
Mercury/Bulb (g) 0.11 0.34 0.00
Mercury emissions from coal (g), (0.023mg/kW•hr) 0.74 0.74 0.00
Total Mercury (g) 126.90 16.14 0.00

 Indicates highest cost or energy usage.
 Indicates lowest cost or energy usage.


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