Cleantech BluGlass cleans up as investors see the light
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One of the most ubiquitous forms of “cleantech” is LED, or Light Emitting Diodes, which provide lighting sources about ten times more efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs.
Cleantech refers to efficient, environmentally friendly technologies such as renewable energy providers, battery makers or water treatment services.
Higher efficiency, longer life and higher reliability have driven the global LED market to more than $US30 billion.
To layer efficiency on efficiency, hardware maker BluGlass (ASX:BLG) is developing semiconductor processes to make LED and solar cell equipment more efficiently.
The company has a portfolio of 47 patents around its RPCVD (Remote Plasma Chemical Vapour Deposition) technology which is now entering industry evaluations.
The technology involves the development of gallium nitride at low temperatures in order to improve LED production scalability and operating properties.
Until now, the key impediment to the adoption of LED has been a phenomenon known as “droop”, where LED efficiency drops as electrical current increases. Addressing droop is one of the core objectives of the company’s technology suite.
Last year, BluGlass formed an exclusive collaboration agreement with light engine leader, Lumileds.
Because of commercial confidentiality, the company has not provided much in the way of updates other than to say “good progress” is being made and both parties are confident of project achievement.
More significantly, the project has moved into phase two, which is aimed at integration into Lumileds products.
This is particularly interesting because it would pave the way for BluGlass to supply wafers for Lumileds lighting devices.
Lumileds is a private company (80 per cent owned by Apollo Asset Management) so its revenues are not quantifiable. But it makes a wide range of LED and has 9000 staff.
Another key driver for BluGlass’s commercial success could be microLED displays, an area where global giants such as Facebook and Apple are investing significant R&D dollars.
MicroLED provides potentially much better screen images with lower power requirements. It is also expected to produce longer life, increased ruggedness and superior environmental outcomes.
Shrewdly, the company is pursuing other potentially major application paths with numerous well credentialed international partners including:
• A collaboration with leading semiconductor wafer manufacturer IQE to develop nitride films for a range of electronic devices
• A partnership with Chinese LED manufacturer HC Semitek to explore a range of applications
• An agreement with Veeco to evaluate applications in green LEDs
• An agreement with Griffith University and the Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre in Melbourne to develop allium nitride transistors for the power electronics industry.
Meanwhile in September the company reached a key milestone in its tech road map with the announcement that its upscaled BLG-300 chamber had demonstrated deposition uniformity which means it could produce wafers up to 6 inches in diameter with the consistency demanded by the chip industry.
Earlier this month, the company reached its most critical commercial milestone with the announcement of a $600,000 order of specialist foundry development from an un-named customer.
The stock has doubled as a result of those two milestones and it now commands a market cap of over $150 million.
But that probably still understates the potential value of the place it is carving out in such a huge global supply chain.
Tim Knapton is the founder and CEO of online tech research and finance marketplace TechVoyage. Its video/financial database and digital broadcast platform provide a more efficient way for investors to appraise listed and unlisted tech companies and for entrepreneurs to finance, acquire and exit them.
Previously Tim was Head of Corporate Broking at Deutsche Australia and before that ran a research department for a leading broking house. Tim has also been a freelance tech/finance journalist for more than 20 years and a columnist with The Australian Financial Review, The Bulletin, BRW, Shares and Australian Business.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.