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Photo-Luminescent Road Paint: The Future of Energy-Efficient Road Networks

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Glow-in-the-Dark-Technology-Daan-Roosegaard-5-537x340Do you remember the Biobulb, the first ever electric light bulb to use an entire ecosystem as a source of light? Or maybe this one will ring a bell- the super cool illuminating art design, that also uses bacteria to flicker in the dark? If you thought that this is the only scale at which luminescent technology could work, you would be very wrong. Say ‘hi’ to the first ever, large scale, glow-in-the-dark project, which aims to replace energy-consuming highway lights with an light-absorbing luminescent road paint, first in the Netherlands, and hopefully soon all around the world.

The incredible invention is a product of the Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde together with Heijmans, a Dutch civil engineering company, as part of the concept “Smart Highways“. The photo-luminescent paint functions very similarly to a solar battery thanks to the photo-luminizing powder, which was incorporated in it. During the day, the paint absorbs sunlight, which is gradually emitted during the night. The green light that it produces lasts for up to ten hours, and requires zero extra energy, making it not only extremely eco-friendly and energy efficient, but also super cool and impressive.

Initially, the project had a small setback. After the paint was applied on trial highways in the west part of the Netherlands, it appeared that it the ability of the paint to emit light was weaken by moisture and rainfall. Quite strange for a Dutch designer to not have considered this possibility, especially since the country celebrates if there are five days in a row with no precipitation, but anyhow. The makers do not see this as a show-stopper and are convinced that the new-and-improved version of the paint will be laid out on the trial roads this summer. Here is a video with a small demo.

Roosegaarde, however, is not planning to stop here. His quest to make a huge energy-efficient road network, where light is provided only by illuminating technology, continues with replacing street lights with luminescent trees. To do this, he is looking into special marine bacteria, which could be the main ingredient for a new biological paint to be applied as coating on the tree trunks.

Image (c) Studio Roosegaarde

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