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Winter Woes and LED Lights

While de-icing my car this morning, I was listening to the radio. The announcer said that we are expecting more snow in London this week. The news sent shivers down my spine but not for the reason you may think. As if the ice on the road and pedestrians jumping in front of moving cars isn’t bad enough, we may have a new problem to deal with: it seems that LED traffic lights may have a problem dealing with snow.

Unlike their incandescent counterparts, LED traffic lights do not melt the snow that covers the  housings (in case you haven’t read about this here’s a link on Slashdot ). As a result, some cities have reported accidents where drivers have plowed into the intersection because they have been unable to tell whether they have the right of way. Now California has had a low tech solution which we’ve used for years:  if the traffic light is out, you revert to a 4-way stop sign.  But I guess not every state has this law. And while we’re on the subject London could really use this because when traffic signals go out here, you basically have to play a game of Frogger. So why am I concerned about this? For two reasons:

1) personal – most of the traffic lights in my part of London are LED lights; therefore, the thought of having to sit at an intersection playing Frogger is not my idea of fun.


2) professional – as someone involved in the field of CFD and thermal simulation, it seems to me that this problem may be fairly easy to solve. From what I’ve heard, LEDs give off 91% of the energy they consume as heat. So it stands to reason that by creating a different heatsink you should be able to channel the heat to the right place and solve this problem. Unfortunately this solution would require a bit of retrofitting but in the grand scheme of things, it’s better than dispatching armies of people with brooms to clear the snow away …

So if you’re a design engineer and are intrigued about using simulation to solve this problem for your organization cost-effectively, then please go here to find additional information from your thermal experts (us)!

Until next time,

Design Engineer, LED, CFD, Thermal

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About Nazita Saye

Nazita SayeI have been involved with the CFD user community in one shape or another since 1999 -- when the NIKA team first introduced FloWorks to the engineering community. Over the years I've seen the market evolve and I still marvel at the wide range of products that are being designed with our tools. As the Manager of External Communications for the Mechanical Analysis Division at Mentor, it is my privilege to bring some of our customer stories to you. Visit CFD doesn’t mean Color For Directors

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