Since 2009, it disappears from the stores because it is accused of being too greedy in electricity. Yet, in its day, it was a real miracle of technology bringing light into every home. This fallen queen is the incandescent bulb. Here is a small nostalgic sequence …
The Incandescent Bulb, An Old Lady Of The Nineteenth Century
It was in the middle of the nineteenth century that Heinrich Goebel, a German watchmaker who emigrated to New York, highlighted the phenomenon of incandescence with a carbonized bamboo filament.In 1854, he illuminated the store window of his store with lamps made with charred bamboo filaments enclosed in bottles of cologne empty and powered with batteries! His neighbors will sue him and he was ordered to dismantle his facilities …
A few years later, Joseph Swann in England and Thomas Edison in the United States developed the first incandescent bulbs operating with a carbon filament and supplied with electricity. The very first patent is deposited in England by Swann. It dates from 1879. The following year Thomas Edison in turn puts a patent. These bulbs were the stars of the Universal Exhibition of 1881.
But a filament incandescent in the air burns entirely. This is why, from the beginning, it is placed in a vacuum glass ampoule. Hence the name of bulb which by extension is given to the whole system allowing the lighting.
An Incandescent Bulb, What Is It?
The basic principle is to pass an electric current through a filament.When heated, it produces light. This phenomenon is called incandescence.
The first tests are made with a filament of bamboo or charred cotton.
But on heating, the carbon tends to sublimate, that is to say to evaporate. Very fine particles are then deposited on the glass inside the bulb and quickly becomes opaque. Moreover, sublimation fragile the filament since it regularly loses material.
In order to overcome these problems, carbon is replaced by tungsten.This metal supports temperatures of more than 3400 ° Celsius. It is therefore less fragile.
Several engineers had the idea of filling the gas bulb in order to limit the sublimation. From the 1930s, inert gases, such as argon or krypton, were used.
In 1959, EG Zubler, a chemist at General Electric, further improves the system by taking a quartz glass more heat resistant and filling it with high-pressure halogen gas. Thus born the halogen incandescent bulb.
The Incandescent Bulb: Too Greedy And Limited Longevity …
The filament on heating loses material and becomes more fragile. He eventually broke up. The lifetime of an incandescent bulb is approximately 1000 hours. So much less than its sisters compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs .
In modern incandescent bulbs, the tungsten filament is wound helically, so it produces more light. But, most of the electricity used shares in heat and not in brightness. The incandescent bulb consumes more than other types of bulbs.
Today, we are much more attentive to our energy consumption. Having incandescent bulbs at home is not eco-responsible. And besides, they are forbidden to the sale, except low-consumption incandescent halogen bulbs .
Nevertheless it must be recognized that these bulbs have rendered us many services and that their light by the atmosphere it creates, remains a reference. Thus at the beginning the fluocompactes, although much more economical, were rather gray in comparison with the golden luminosity of the incandescents.
Did you know ?
The Livermore Fire Station in California houses the world’s oldest incandescent bulb: The Centennial Bulb. It is a 4 Watt bulb that would shine since 1901 without having almost never been extinguished. On the other hand, its luminosity is more that of a pilot lamp than a “normal” lamp. It is included in the Guinness Book of Records.
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