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Nissan Leaf “TRON Edition” on Dutch Smart Highway

World's first glow-in-the-dark Nissan Leaf drives worlds first glow-in-the-dark highway, the Smart Highway, in the Netherlands.
World’s first glow-in-the-dark Nissan Leaf drives worlds first glow-in-the-dark highway, the Smart Highway, in the Netherlands.

Here at The Green Optimistic, we love solar power, and it turns out that lots of Nissan Leaf owners love solar power, too.

We already know that electric vehicle emissions, such as those associated with the Nissan Leaf, are entirely dependent on where you charge. If your power grid is mainly fossil-fuel based, then of course your emissions are going to be higher than if your grid is based on renewable energy, such as wind power or solar power. On fossil-fuel-dense power grids, Nissan Leaf owners can opt to charge their electric vehicles on renewable energy, via their own residential solar power installations. In fact, so many have chosen to do so that Nissan celebrated with a Nissan Leaf with a solar-powered paint job.

In other words, this Nissan Leaf (I’d love to call it the “TRON Edition,”) glows in the dark. It’s phosphorescent paint job, made possible due to the rare earth metal Strontium Aluminate, soaks up solar radiation during the day, then releases that energy, in the form of a greenish glow, for eight to ten hours after the sun goes down. While glow-in-the-dark paint, car wraps, and accessories are already available, this is the first time that a manufacturer has ever applied it to a production vehicle. Still, don’t expect this to show in production any time soon, because even the small amount of Strontium Aluminate needed to paint the car is ridiculously expensive.

So, here we have a solar-powered Nissan Lead, with a solar-powered paint job, which could only be better if driven on a solar-powered road. Thankfully, such a thing exists in the Smart Highway project, envisioned and executed by Daan Roosegaarde, in the Netherlands. The idea was to improve night-time visibility without resorting to more street lights, which would likely be connected to some fossil-fuel-based power grid. Instead of street lights, 4/10ths of a mile of highway N329 in the city of Oss, the Netherlands, features phosphorescent road markings that, like the Nissan Leaf’s glow-in-the-dark paint job, absorb solar radiation during the day, releasing it as light for about eight hours at night.

“The glowing lines on the Smart Highway replace standard street lighting to reduce electrical energy consumption,” says designer Roosegaarde, “To have the world’s first glow-in-the-dark Nissan Leaf on our road is a privilege, and it mirrors goals that we want to achieve with our Smart Highway.” True, it’s not as high-tech as Solar Roadways, but could a low-tech solution be easier to implement?

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