Ron Hui was nominated as an Earth Champion for his invention of more energy efficient lights, especially for street lighting, which has been successfully demonstrated and implemented in China.
Energy saving lighting; Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL); sustainable lighting technology;
Ron’s initiative was about saving energy without creating waste. Particularly, looking at sustainable lighting technology that saves energy and that the components can be recycled after the light stops working.
Ron is interested in the whole life cycle approach to making, using and disposing of lighting. Saving energy without being noticed by the user (e.g. new lighting without affecting the quality of life).
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) have mercury in them. Ron wanted lights without mercury because if 2 CFL bulbs broke in your 700sq ft apartment, then the mercury released is well over recommended safe exposure limits.
This issue happens globally – energy being wasted through poor quality bulbs plus the waste their disposal causes.
Ron has seen lots of misleading information (actually lies) by lighting companies about lighting including the length of use a bulb has and the levels of mercury.
He began with his research in 1991 while at the University of Sydney. Ron has continued researching using research grants from the Research Grant Council (RGC) in Hong Kong and grants from Universities. This initiative is full-time in his work and personal life. He has also become an Advisor to the Consumer Council (so he has no shares in lighting companies).
Ron is developing and inventing technology for energy reduction – the new theory for LED and how it links to light, heat and electrical power. The theory is called Unified Photo-Electro-Thermal Theory for LED systems.
Ron has received Government funding for the research. From Australian Research centre initially and then the HK RGC.
He has also encouraged by the fact that companies are turning from promoting incorrect information to correct information.
Ron has had the following obstacles to overcome:
- Cooperation of getting ideas into the field (e.g. for road lighting).
- The government department is thinking that mercury from broken CFL’s will be retained in the Landfill. However, the bulb either gets broken at home, in the rubbish shoot from an apartments floor or by the rubbish trucks compacting the rubbish.
- The industry challenges to me personally around the papers published in 2005 about the impacts of CFL.
- People think that Hong Kong is not an inventors place. E.g. the wireless charging pack I have developed has been taken up by international companies not local ones. (The idea is that we have a single charger for many wireless devices which would help reduce the 1.6 billion chargers made each year and the space required to ship devices with chargers).
Ron is motivated by the need to educate people. “If I believe what I am doing is right then I have the energy. It comes from my faith.”
Locally (Hong Kong)
- Central theories passed on to companies including Delta. Electronic for street lighting.
- Research has shown LED lighting for roads is not performing to the required standard.
- Less waste into landfills.
- Have trialled system of bulbs in China and able to publish results (not able to publish the HK findings yet). Now need to get businesses supporting the production of the technology.
- Have been interviewed on CNN about mercury issues in lights and on Australian ABC network.
I am an advisor to international companies and IEEE (The world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology).
The social effects of the initiative are the reduction in light pollution due to fewer lumens of light required. This is especially successful in residential areas where lights were keeping people awake. Safer products, the design of CFL means that they do not need to use mercury.
The impact for the future is for more energy savings and safer conditions through more effective production and use of lighting.
The Universities intention is to be environmentally friendly however as they are following government policy and ideas they cannot be totally environmentally friendly. For example, with lighting that uses electrical ballast, it only lasts about 3 years. Whereas modern production of the old magnetic ballast can last 20 years. Often the ballast in a CFL bulb fails well before the light tube.
Ron has been able to spread his message through many means including the interviews on TV, publications, speaking at conferences, etc.
Support and encouragement is needed from the Government. Mostly the Government mentality is not to make mistakes so they are very cautious. E.g. “I warned them about the old TV screens having lead in them, though they did nothing knowing that as the old screens got dumped, they would end up in the landfill and then they would not have to worry about it, although their grandchildren probably will.”
Ron first became interested in environmental issues when he started his research career in power. In the last few years he has seen children handling electronic waste, so wrote an open letter to the Ming Pao newspaper about the illegal trade in waste.
Through attending more general seminars and talks on the environment, he has learnt more.
Ron was able to promote other projects promoting sustainability by making a “Landmark Presentation” which was titled “Re-examination of the Environmental Issues in Lighting Technology”.
Also through biology groups at university sharing ideas on the PBDE chemical in the water and detecting the different levels in river and sea fish showed that PBDE, the anti-flame coating for electrical circuits, was ending up in the rivers through the disposal of electrical waste.
Ron’s hopes and vision for the future is that Government and the Commercial World can work together with scientists for environmentally friendly technology in a way that they are profitable to all.