From the beginnings of the successful NEPTURION® series until today
Dr. Wesseling, who has been working as a plasma physicist at BLV since 1995, is the initiator and head behind the famous NEPTURION® series. An exciting story from the development of a single lamp to a worldwide series.
Q: Dr. Wesseling, how did it all begin?
A: The first experiments in aquarium lighting at BLV date back to 1992. At that time, BLV first tried to adapt general lighting products - the area in which BLV grew up - to aquarium lighting. However, these solutions were not compatible with the natural filtering effect of seawater: it filters the red component out of the sunlight, making the light appear bluish up to a depth of several metres.
In short, there was no suitable lighting solution. It was a niche that only a few could master, hence I designed a lamp specially optimized for coral breeding.
Q: Corals, however, are very special species with very special light requirements ...
A: Indeed they are! Corals need extremely high irradiance to grow and reproduce. During the development I therefore oriented myself to the high light values near the equator, which amount to approx. 100,000 lux at noon. In addition, the UV radiation penetrates the upper water layers. Just as the skin of humans tans at first as protection, corals also protect themselves from UV radiation. This gives corals their fascinating, striking and colourful appearance. An effect that has always captivated visitors in large salt water aquariums and coral basins.
Q: The development from the idea to the product was certainly very complex.
A: Yes. The requirements were enormous. This was followed by numerous exposure tests with the well-known aquarium light manufacturers and of course numerous tests on the effectiveness on the coral and on the desired appearance.
However, there were also a number of technical requirements. For example, the demand for minimum decline in luminous flux. At the equator, the sun shines every day from morning to evening. However, long operating times put a considerable strain on the lamp. However, the lamp in the aquarium should be replaced as seldom as possible, should change little colour and retain its brilliance for as long as possible.
You can imagine how many lamp tests were carried out to investigate the causes and service life. At the same time, new production techniques were developed and introduced to achieve these objectives.
Q: This is also one of BLV's unique selling points: research, development and production under one roof. Even the production facilities were developed in-house. All this ultimately leads to the quality for which BLV is known. The investment soon paid off in the aquarium lighting sector as well. Finally, BLV conquered the market with a 400 W screw version as the 10000 K version. A huge success!
A: Truly. The development jump consisted in the fact that the normal sunlight with a color temperature of 5500 K and a water layer of some meters could be simulated. It really isn’t easy to realized this in a domestic aquarium basin!
Q: What happened next?
A: In 1998/99, 1000 W versions were introduced, followed by a series of new product developments tailored to the needs of smaller customers: 70 W / 150 W / 250 W - no longer exclusively used for coral growth, but also for the "diving experience" in normal aquarium tanks of various sizes.
Another milestone were product developments with ever higher colour temperatures of 14000K and 20 000K+ and mixtures, which BLV presented for the first time in 2003/04. This confirmed the company's position as world market leader in the field of discharge lamps (MH).
Q: What were great moments in your career as developer?
A: There are lots of little moments. The many small development steps consist of observing, analysing and making creative and targeted changes to the test conditions. In the event of success, a very satisfying realization arises that one has understood one's surroundings a little better.
I am proud to see in how many scientific publications on research projects my lamps have been the subject of research or taken into account. I think that we have achieved essential knowledge for the conservation of the worldwide coral population and that controlled breeding programs can preserve or even supplement the natural stocks.
Q: A great contribution to sustainability!
In recent years, BLV has expanded its product portfolio to include LED luminaires. The latest LED NEPTURION® series will be launched shortly, but the company will continue to supply metal halide (MH) lamps that have been used worldwide for over two decades.
The list of worldwide research reports with detailed references to the BLV NEPTURION® lamps can be found here.
About BLV Licht- und Vakuumtechnik GmbH
Since our foundation in 1968, BLV Licht- und Vakuumtechnik GmbH headquartered in Steinhöring near Munich has developed into a global player in lamp manufacture. We have been a part of the USHIO Group for over 20 years now. With their high-technology special lamps, USHIO is the world market leader in industrial applications such as office automation and cinema projection. In doing so, the USHIO Group has an approx. global turnover of 1.5 billion Euro and employ around 5 700 employees.
BLV offers a wide range of high quality lamps for different applications, from aquarium lighting, the illumination of stadiums up to industrial lighting. Our production facilities in Germany coupled with a close relationship with our research and development department equipped with modern equipment means we are able to ensure the highest quality and flexibility.
Along with the production and sales of high quality lamps, complete solutions where the complete lighting system are planned, developed and implemented individually for the customer are increasing significantly for BLV.