"Towards the end of the twentieth century, the old fashioned sodium street lights that made everything look orange were gradually replaced by high-pressure sodium lamps.
"While these are brighter and more aesthetically pleasing, and can help tackle street crime and anti-social behaviour, they are also less energy efficient.
"With the environment at the top of the public and political agenda, energy saving has become a very important issue. When you consider how many street lights there are in the UK alone, it's clear there are some big opportunities for energy and cost savings."
Gordon Routledge, MD of Dialight Lumidrives, who studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the old UMIST and graduated in 1996, said: "LEDs are on track to become a major source of lighting over the next decade.
"Although significant investment is on-going in the core development of the LEDs themselves, the surrounding technology development is being left to manufacturers who have little knowledge of electronics or LEDs.
"We are proud to be working with The University of Manchester to develop technology which will drive the adoption of this revolutionary lighting source in everyday applications."
While high-pressure sodium vapour street lighting - common across much of Europe - gives an efficiency of around 85 lumens per watt, LED technology is on track to exceed 150 lumens per watt - and this figure is rising as new semiconductor developments occur. The mercury used in the old-fashioned lights also has implications for the environment.
As well as cutting energy consumption and overall running costs, researchers say that LED street lighting could help reduce light pollution - and the glow that radiates from big cities could become a thing of the past. It's also proposed that LED street lighting could be controlled and dimmed
Contact: Alex Waddington
University of Manchester