Light bulb glows energy-free

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Old 03-Nov-2008
Lightbulb Light bulb glows energy-free

The flicking of a light switch rarely elicits excitement, but a Boulder company is trying to bring back the thrill of lighting with a new bulb that uses no energy and has some people saying "that's the coolest thing I've ever seen."

American Environmental Products this month debuted the After-Lite, a compact fluorescent lamp that can shine light without any electricity or battery power. An attachment clipped to the top of the fluorescent bulb's spiral contains an advanced photoluminescent, or a refined phosphorous product.

This attachment, like the minerals within it, absorbs, retains and gradually releases light photons and only needs to be charged with natural or artificial light. When used, a dark room suddenly glows green, illuminated by American Environmental Products' new bulbs.

"It's kind of like a glow-in-the-dark key chain," said Charles Bolta, inventor of the After-Lite technology and president of American Environmental Products.

After-Lite, the first consumer product of its kind, can serve as a child's night light, lantern or just a safety light as it glows throughout the night. The bulbs cost $19.95 apiece and are available at
The bulbs last at least 8,000 hours, but "will decay out through the night," Bolta said. The After-Lite will glow the greenest and the brightest within the first hour of darkness, but there will still be what he calls an "after glow" into the morning.

This allows people to wander in the dark without struggling for safety. In fact, After-Lite can be unscrewed from its light source and continues to glow so it can be used as an emergency lantern.

"The biggest impact of this light will be areas of bad power and areas that have a great use for emergency response," Bolta said.

These bulbs will meet safety needs, Bolta said, and at the same time, inspire others. He has seen young boys and girls take the bulbs out of lamps as they watched them glow with amazement. Julie High of Boulder said her 10-year-old daughter loves the bulb in her room.

"I think that she likes that she has been able to go to sleep, it's not like there's a light glaring," said High. "I think she gets a kick out of the fact that it glows green a little bit."

Not only that, but other engineers might build on this technology and make it even better, Bolta said.

"That's part of what our intent is -- to spark the imagination."

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