Technological problems with introducing energy-saving technology and ways of resolving them

Deputy chief editor - Michael Nikoulichev

On 17-22 November 2009, the National Exhibition of the Russian Federation was held in Chicago (West McCormic Place). After years of tense relations between Russia and the USA, the Presidents of these two countries announced a new policy of “reload”.

The Exhibition and Conference in Chicago was one of the first important economic and cultural events in the new round of relations between Russia and the USA. Deputy Minister of Trade for the Russian Federation, Mr. Sergey Materov arrived to Chicago for the opening of the Exhibition. The Exhibition focused on industrial innovations, energy-saving equipment being the most prominent. Vladimir Krylov, Ph.D., chief editor of the Screens magazine (www.screens.ru) was invited by the Organizing Committee of the Conference and the Russian Ministry of Trade to present a report on the current tendencies in this sphere.

Mr. Krylov’s report was paradoxically called “From complex to elementary: technological problems with introducing energy-saving technology and ways of resolving them”. The LED technology is indeed revolutionary since it resolves numerous problems: cuts down energy consumption, offers environmentally clean and safe solution for manufacturers compared to incandescent or even fluorescent and halogen lamps as all of its components are RoHS standard approved.

Vladimir Krylov Vladimir Krylov
Vladimir Krylov, Ph.D., chief editor of the Screens magazine

However each innovation has to mature before it becomes a truly safe and acceptable for public use. Today the whole world is excited about nano-technology and energy-saving approaches, but few people realize that every nano-device has to work in the macro-world. It is therefore essential to make nano- and macro-technologies fully compatible. To make this happen we need to resolve a number of technological, organizational, and legal issues that prevent modern energy-saving technologies from wide implementation into our life, both in Russia and the USA.

For 15 years our team of engineers has been busy developing new technological ideas and putting them into practice. We started to work with complex systems – electronic video screens. These systems use hundreds of thousands of LEDs, multi-layer PCBs, specialized IC drivers and multicore chips, miles of cables and complex control system that needed new software. We had to work with low level programming of standard microchips and with high level programming to control the distributed networks.

It was this approach that helped us to achieve positive results in the area of digital outdoor and indoor LED screen applications and in the process to face the whole range of potential problems that any LED-based product will have in turning from a laboratory sample to a mass-produced item.

Vladimir Krylov Vladimir Krylov
Vladimir Krylov, Ph.D., chief editor of the Screens magazine

Dr. Krylov identified six most important problems and elaborated on them:


Overcoming negative effects of artificial light at the stage of development, such as flicker effect (that negatively affects eyesight), EMI, refresh etc. Once transferred to the mass-production level, ideal laboratory samples sometimes turn into potentially hazardous products.


The quality of products inadvertently suffers when products are manufactured in large quantities at numerous factories selected through outsourcing process. The world has changed drastically in the past 10 years. In the 90-ies main suppliers of LEDs were located in technologically advanced areas of USA, Japan, Germany and Taiwan. Today 95% of manufacturers moved their factories to China, Malaysia and Indonesia. Massive quality problems appeared overnight.


New products appear almost daily but they are not controlled by the certification and sanitary norms that were adopted decades ago. Moreover, different countries such must approve and adopt matching requirements to prevent substandard imports. Try to remember how the mobile phone looked like 10 years ago! The technology moves at a very high pace. The same is true about energy-saving technology. Since we are planning to implement these new solutions into our life, we should better be sure that the quality of such new products is strictly controlled by the modern and constantly updated internationally recognized norms and regulations.


The energy-saving products once introduced would require an army of technicians and engineers to service them. However no system for training qualified personnel for this highly specialized sphere has been set up in any country so far. Today Russia is not at the forefront of the technological advance; however it has retained its leadership in the educational sphere, especially in vocational training. An international cooperation in this sphere could be beneficial for all while there is still time to prepare for the explosive growth of demand in technical skills.


While advanced countries continue losing jobs as factories are being moved to areas with cheap labor, we should all consider the social impact from the transfer to energy-saving products. Here the re-training programs could soften the negative effects of such tendencies: we will all need thousands of skilled technicians to replace millions of lamps throughout out countries.


LED-based lighting is a completely new product conceptually and utilization of these electronic products would require dozens of specialized factories throughout the world once energy-saving equipment becomes standard. If we start preparing now, while we still have 5-8 years of advance planning ahead, we will be able to save resources and avoid ecological problems in future.

Our magazine hopes that such conferences will become regular and will provide a platform for quick and open exchange of ideas in the area of LED technology, such as were put forward by Dr. Krylov at the Chicago Conference.