Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Come From China

China-born Ellis Yan, right, 53, owns Shanghai, China-based TCP Inc, the largest manufacturer of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs sold in the U.S. About 200 million CFL bulbs were sold in 2006 and TCP provided 70% of those bulbs. GE and Sylvania are gearing up to compete with TCP and currently resell TCP bulbs under their names. TCP is currently the main supplier of CFLs to Home Depot and Wal-Mart. TCP has 3,000 employees.

Two big events have helped in the advancement of CFLs. One was the electricity crisis in California in 2001, which led to a huge conservation push that included replacing light bulbs. Second is the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007, which phases out traditional incandescent light bulbs by 2012. Mercury is a concern in CFLs. About five milligrams of mercury are used in the typical bulb. A tiny amount of mercury is heated until it turns into gas that reacts with other gases to produce light. Mercury is toxic. (The Wall Street Journal, 12/27/07)

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