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Branson Bets on Green Lamps

Another benefit of Metrolight's products concerns their failure and disposal. HID lamps have had an end-of-life problem because they can explode. Most all lamps, including HID and fluorescent, contain mercury, which is harmful for the environment if it is disposed of improperly.

Metrolight's solution to this problem is to monitor their lamps' activity so that they shut down before they fail. Also, Metrolight's lamps last twice as long as traditional HID lamps, and they can be recycled once their lifespan has ended.

The company competes with giant bulbmakers Philips (PHG - Get Report) and GE (GE - Get Report), but Metrolight is preparing to make a major push into the global lighting market. It hopes to use its relationship with Virgin Fuels to energize the initiative.

As part of the investment, Weiss will be joining Metrolight's board. "His team tends to immerse itself in the businesses that it invests in, which will be very helpful for us," Reid says.

Also, Virgin's horizontal combination of businesses that span the globe has lots of facilities that need lighting. "Virgin will become an instant customer," Reid points out.

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