[Toyako Summit] Fuel Battery, LED Lighting Used for Live TV Coverage

Jul 8, 2008
Susumu Tajima, Senior Editorial Staff
Crews preparing for a remote report: Thus far, NHK used the fuel cell power system mainly to power monitor TVs and other equipment, which would not result in a problem with the broadcast even if they failed to operate, but at the Toyako Summit, NHK tried using the system for the lighting at night, a situation with no tolerance for failure.
Crews preparing for a remote report: Thus far, NHK used the fuel cell power system mainly to power monitor TVs and other equipment, which would not result in a problem with the broadcast even if they failed to operate, but at the Toyako Summit, NHK tried using the system for the lighting at night, a situation with no tolerance for failure.
[Click to enlarge image]
LED lighting equipment with power consumption reduced to 1/3: At the foot of the white LED lighting equipment is the fuel cell power system. Chief Engineer Sawada is in the center.
LED lighting equipment with power consumption reduced to 1/3: At the foot of the white LED lighting equipment is the fuel cell power system. Chief Engineer Sawada is in the center.
[Click to enlarge image]

Japan Broadcasting Corp (NHK) is using a portable fuel cell power system and LED lighting equipment on a trial basis for part of the live TV broadcast of the Hokkaido Toyako Summit, which is taking place from July 7, 2008.

The portable fuel cell power system used at the Summit is the same one as that unveiled by NHK in February 2008 The system was co-developed with Hitachi Ltd. It is a direct methanol fuel cell with a pump and a fan. It has an output of about 100W and can generate power for about 2.5 hours with a 500mL fuel tank (containing methanol with a concentration of 40%).

The power system has two output terminals for the XLR 4-pin (DC 16.8V), which can supply power to TV cameras, for example. The system is also capable of recharging two Li-ion rechargeable battery packs for TV cameras.

Engine power generators have thus far been used for disaster reporting and programs on unexplored regions, which require outdoor shooting for long hours. The output of the engine generator is higher than 1kW, although it is heavier, weighing more than 10kg. On the other hand, the fuel cell power system weighs only 6kg (excluding fuel), although its output is limited to 100W.

"We want at least 500W to power all the equipment required for live coverage, such as cameras, lighting and monitors," said Satoru Sawada, chief engineer of the Broadcasting Engineering Department at the News Technical Center of NHK, which is conducting the trial of this system.

For this reason, the system is only used to power one LED light.

The fuel cell power system does not directly contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions because it uses methanol as a fuel. NHK hopes that the system will be able to run on hydrogen fuel or bioethanol derived from renewable energy in the future, so that the system will provide a solution to environmental problems.

Operating time extended by LED lighting

The LED lighting equipment was jointly developed with Toshiba Lighting & Technology Corp. With only about 1/3 power consumption, the equipment is as bright as the existing tungsten lamp, according to NHK. The system can significantly reduce battery consumption during outdoor shooting at night and in other situations.

In addition, the equipment reduces the power consumed by the lights in studios, and prevents the temperature rise in the room, thereby reducing the power consumed by air conditioner, NHK said. Furthermore, because the equipment has a life of about 50,000-60,000 hours, crews do not have to worry about blowouts after 7-8 years of use. Halogen lamps have a life of about 300 hours at the most.

With a power consumption of only 130W, the center luminance of the lighting is 1,600lx or higher when the spotlight diameter is 1m, and 600lx or higher when the diameter is 3m. The equipment is composed of a total of 45 pieces of RGB LEDs and irradiates a white light with a color temperature of 5,600-6,000K. It also meets the general color rendering index of 85, which is required in TV studios and other environments.

The equipment used to have trouble in obtaining uniform light diffusion and a problem with poor color reproducibility. By improving the filter and other components arranged in front of the light, almost all the problems in practical use were eliminated, NHK said.