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The Bulb Eater 3 lamp crusher from Aircycle Corp., Lisle, Ill., can safely dispose of straight fluorescent lamps of any length, as well as U-shaped bulbs and CFLs (with optional chute attachment), reducing them to little more than dust. The device mounts to a 55-gallon drum and can hold up to 1,350 crushed 4-ft lamps.

A vacuum subsystem pulls in bulbs and keeps dust inside the drum. A motor spins an assembly with three strands of chain that whip around and turn incoming lamps to dust. A series of five filters, including a HEPA filter and a carbon filter that actively neutralizes the mercury, prevent 99.99% of the mercury vapor from being released. Sensors detect when filters need to be changed and alert users with LED readouts. Users can hire the manufacturer to pick up full drums (at a discounted rate) to safely dispose and recycle the waste material.

The Bulb Eater provides several benefits. Lamp users need no longer store spent bulbs in boxes. This saves roughly 20 hr of labor/1,000 bulbs and decreases the amount of required storage space by up to 80%. And EPA studies show that boxing and storing lamps results in a 2 to 3% breakage rate and the release of mercury vapor. Crushing lamps prior to recycling also saves anywhere from 10 cents to a dollar per lamp.  

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