Swiss inventor Daniel Muessli has a bright idea. He has developed a tiny energy-saving light bulb that burns for 10,000 hours, and he is about to enter a lucrative market by mass-producing the bulbs in a small Bernese town.
Muessli says his bulb is the smallest energy-efficient in the world. Made of plastic and available in several colors, it uses six times less energy than conventional bulbs.
Dubbed "slights," the bulbs come with a five-year guarantee and can be recycled. A key feature is that they do not become hot when switched on.
"They give out cool light so, for example, you can put them in children's lamps or use them where normal light bulbs would be out of the question," Muessli said.
Even as he gears up to begin production in autumn at a renovated building where clothes and biscuits were once produced in Wangen an der Aare, distributors of light bulbs are already expressing interest.
It is an encouraging sign. Muessli says the market for energy saving bulbs is growing by 10 to 15 per cent a year.
As chief executive of the small company microlight, part of a holding company called 7ton, Muessli believes his chance of success is good.
"The market for normal light bulbs is a dream. Worldwide, 11 billion are produced and sold a year. The market for energy saving bulbs is 140 million a year and we're planning in Wangen an der Aare to produce between five and 10 million a year at the start," he explained.
Muessli, from canton Thurgau, has been involved in the production of energy saving bulbs since 1988 and has helped develop the electronics for two of the world's largest bulb manufacturers.
"Since 1995, I've developed miniaturisation to such an extent that the process of manufacture can now be done automatically, instead of manually," he said.
An electronics specialist, he saved space by fitting the electronic part into the screw of the bulb.
"We can make our bulbs smaller and are fairly free as far as design is concerned." You can say that "slights" represent a totally new source of light," he told swissinfo.
Let there be light
The microlight company currently has a staff of 18. When production begins, it will need about 35 to cover the needs of both research and manufacture. Bulb design and development of the production lines will be carried out in Wangen.
The head of the Swiss Energy Foundation, Armin Braunwalder, believes that the chances of "slights" in the marketplace are good. . "It's a great idea," he said.
"If the quality is right, `slights' will achieve a breakthrough and conquer the market."
by Robert Brookes