GRAND RAPIDS — Technology developed by LumenFlow Corp. will power the next generation of lighting for greenhouses.
Partnering with two other Michigan companies, Grand Rapids-based LumenFlow has designed and developed an advanced photonic LED system that ensures the uniform distribution of light with a specific spectral profile that encourages plant growth.
This technology was used by Light-Speed USA, which was recently announced the winner of NextEnergy Lighting Challenge, a statewide competition designed to drive technology innovation and economic development in Michigan.
“Our task was a challenging one — develop an LED solution that would incorporate spectral requirements and project uniform, high-intensity light for use in an urban commercial greenhouse setting,” said Brian Zatzke, COO at LumenFlow. “Simply adding conventionally configured LED arrays and off-the-shelf optics wasn’t the answer — those approaches are inefficient and create hot spots or shadows, which would not be conducive to uniform and predictable plant growth. Our expertise in photonics engineering allowed us develop a winning combination of cost-effective silicone optics and LED source solution that not only provides the proper light balance but is also reconfigurable. So whether a greenhouse is growing lettuce or tropical plants, the lighting solution we developed can be quickly and easily adapted to new requirements.”
Light-Speed also tapped AMF Nano, a maker of specialty sensing and feedback control systems, and Nextek Power System, which builds direct current power distribution systems, to develop its cost-effective, energy-efficient and reconfigurable new lighting system. The company received $80,000 in cash and in-kind services to support the development of the new “grow lights” for use and demonstration at Recovery Park, a nonprofit that grows specialty produce in Metro Detroit.
Building off the increasing demand for locally grown produce, the new greenhouse lighting system can supplement or replace Mother Nature by replicating the type and amount of photo-synthetically active radiation, or PAR, energy in a controlled environment for efficiently growing plants and produce.
LumenFlow’s skilled engineers together with Light-Speed USA have developed a custom design that optimizes plant sizes and yields, leading to faster harvesting cycles and plants that both taste better and are more nutritious.
A photonics design, engineering and manufacturing firm, LumenFlow spent more than 24 months collaborating with Light-Speed and other Michigan manufacturers to develop the new solution. As with all its new product development, LumenFlow strives to develop solutions that move from the drawing board to the production floor in a practical and cost-effective manner.
“Since the commercialization of our own LED technology using Dow Corning optical silicones, we have continued to develop new optical solutions using these materials,” Zatzke said. “The unique optical, physical and processing characteristics of these materials, along with our expertise, are enabling us to design new lighting solutions for a variety of applications. As a Michigan business, we recognize the power of collaboration and regularly team with our clients and other companies to establish partnerships that lead to innovation and growth. We appreciated the opportunity to partner with Light-Speed, AMF Nano and Nextek Power on this project and are particularly proud that our technology had a part in winning the NextEnergy Lighting Challenge.”
Established in 2000, LumenFlow offers photonics and lighting systems for the automotive, agriculture, retail, instrumentation, defense, aerospace, medical devices, life sciences and specialty lighting industries.
For more information, visit www.lumenflow.com.