BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The BP (BP - Get Report) oil spill has us worried about our dependence on domestic oil as much as foreign oil. Take heart and take a gander at some alternatives for the future, and what scientists are doing to perfect the ideas.Building a better light bulb: Considering that artificial lighting consumes an estimated 22% of the nation's electricity, and about 40% of the electricity in office buildings, it behooves the world to start using better bulbs. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) hog less energy than their incandescent brethren, but consumers tend to shy away from them, in part because the light from LED is often harsh, cold and unflattering. Enter QD Vision, a Watertown, Mass., startup that specializes in the field of quantum dot lighting, also known as "nanocrystals." In layman's terms, the company uses the technology to create LED lights that are highly efficient -- at 65 lumens per watt -- but that give off warmer, color-rich light. The brightness of these lights is equivalent to 75-watt incandescent bulbs, but they use only a quarter of the energy, according to Vladimir Bulovic, the inventor who co-founded the company. QD Vision is quickly racking up intellectual property, having bought the bulk of Motorola's ( MOT) quantum-dot patent portfolio in May. In March, Nexxus Lighting ( NEXS) began shipping the first commercially available quantum dot/LED bulb, which the company developed in conjunction with QD Vision. Building a better battery: President Obama has been touting new battery technology as a way to reduce dependence on oil, via electric cars. Last year, the federal government put its money where the president's mouth is, allocating $2.4 billion in Recovery Act grants to companies and research facilities that deal with cutting-edge batteries. The biggest direct winner was Johnson Controls ( JCI - Get Report), which received $299.5 million to go toward the production of lithium-ion hybrid vehicle batteries. The company already has battery production agreements with Ford ( F - Get Report) and BMW, as well as development contracts with Jaguar ( TTM), Land Rover and Volkswagen. Johnson Controls is building an advanced battery-manufacturing plant in Holland, Mich., with battery-pack assembly set to begin in August and cell production due to start in 2011.
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