20th Century Inventors:
S.I. Negative #99-4094,
© Fusion Lighting
Michael Ury (to the right)
Lee Anderson and the five demonstration Sulfur lamps in 1994
"That was the longest five minutes of my life
when those things were turned on."
-- Michael Ury, 1997 interview
The Sulfur Lamp, a microwave-powered electrodeless lighting system,
benefited from two high profile demonstrations that helped the technology gain exposure and
credibility. Michael Ury (at right in this photo) and his associates at Fusion Systems
invented this radically new lamp in 1990, but faced a market reluctant to chance the
technology. Given the system's potential for saving energy, Lee
Anderson (at left) decided to lend Ury his support.
As lighting program manager in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Building
Technology, State and Community Programs, Anderson was responsible for evaluating
new lighting technologies. He
arranged for two sulfur lamps to be installed outside DOE's headquarters building, and
three more to be installed inside the National Air & Space Museum's Space Gallery. In
the photo, Anderson (who died in 1998) and Ury are showing off those five lamps prior
to installation in October 1994.
In the quote above, Ury referred to the timing during the ceremonial activation of
the demonstration lamps. While he was confident his lamps would work, if a missed
stage-cue left the band playing in the dark, it would have been rather embarrassing.
The lamps started on cue however, and the demonstration succeeded in
introducing the technology to a large audience, as well as building valuable field
experience with the lamps. The three NASM demonstrators remained in service until
September 1996, the two DOE units a year longer. All five were replaced with
Demonstration unit #1 consisting of the projector, power supply, and air compressor
was transferred from NASM to the Electricity & Modern Physics Collections of the
National Museum of American History after removal. The other four demonstrators were returned to
their original configuration (as industrial ultraviolet curing systems).