Energy news update: A Nobel Prize for LED inventors, and EVs that talk to power companies

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At TXU Energy, we love good news about energy and the environment, and there was plenty of it in October. Here are some top stories that caught our eye this last month:

Nobel Prize for physics goes to LED pioneers

Few awards are as recognized and revered as Nobel Prizes. This year, the Nobel Prize for physics went to three physicists whose pioneering work on LEDs laid the groundwork for the practical use of LEDs to light homes and businesses.

The New York Times reported that physicists Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan, and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, were recognized for inventing the technology that made it possible to produce white light using light-emitting diodes. Until the three researchers, working separately and together, discovered a way to make LEDs that emitted blue light – which is essential to create white light – only red and green diodes had been produced.

The creation of LEDs that emit white light basically launched an industry, and made it possible to use LEDs for everyday lighting applications. The Times reported that the Nobel committee predicted LEDs would be the lighting source of the 21st century. The scientists will split a prize of $1.1 million, which will be awarded December 10 in a ceremony in Stockholm.

EV makers test cars that talk to utility companies using cloud technology

You’ve heard of cars that talk to the driver. Some have GPS tools that can talk you through every turn of a trip. Others have sensors that will tell you when a tire is low, the oil needs changing or something isn’t working properly in the engine. Are you ready for electric vehicles that will talk to power companies about improving the efficiency of the power grid?

The Electric Cars Report said seven global automakers, working with the Electric Power Research Institute and leading utility companies, are testing technology that will allow EVs to communicate via the cloud with power providers. The communication will be two-way. Utilities will be able to ask vehicles to temporarily stop charging if a grid is overloading, and users can choose to accept or decline the request.

As the use of EVs continues to grow, such communication would allow utilities to improve their efficiency and possibly avoid system overloads if too many vehicles need to charge off the same grid at one time. Electric Cars Report says anticipating EV makers include Ford, American Honda Motor Co., BMW Group, Chrysler Group, General Motors Co., Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America Inc., Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc.