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Issue Date: April 2004 Issue

Light Idea

Inspiration struck Ellis Yan during one of his frequent trips to Asia. While visiting Japan a few years ago, he learned about a chemical being added to exterior paint that helped reduce air pollution when exposed to ultraviolet rays.

"Then, I found out the light bulb we make has the same amount of UV: 320 to 360 Janometers," recalls Yan, CEO of Aurora-based Technical Consumer Products. "I wondered if I could bring this material from the outside to the inside."

In February, Yan presented his odor-eliminating light bulb to the consumer market, after testing his prototype on the most noxious of all home odors: the dreaded litter box.

"I have three cats at home and three cat litter boxes," he says. "I got the first bulb at 11:30 a.m. I ran home to put the bulb in and when I went home that day the smell was gone."

A transparent film of titanium dioxide is what allows the bulb to knock out odors. When the coating is exposed to light from the fluorescent bulb, a reaction occurs that starts breaking down odors within 10 minutes.

The bulb is only available in two-packs online at for $20. Yan says the product may one day appear in stores, but only after he builds a base of users looking for a way to eliminate odors without discharging chemicals into the air.

"That's the beauty of the whole thing," he says. "It doesn't smell like anything."

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