Look Ma, No Streetlights! Glow-in-the-dark Roads Get Tested in Netherlands

Posted on April 16, 2014 11:00 AM by Rob Williams

Streetlights are important, that much is obvious. What should also be obvious is that they consume a lot of power. These lights are not just flicked on and off at will, like those in our homes. Once nightfall hits, they click in and remain so until dawn. Given the large amount of streetlights littered around the globe, the importance of finding alternate means of illuminating our roads is high.

With the advent of solar energy, there’s potential for that in the future. But at the moment, it’s still rather expensive to dive into – especially when we’re talking about the sheer number of streetlights out there. I’ve seen road signs equipped with solar panels, though, so who knows what the future holds.

Glow-in-the-dark Roads

For Daan Roosegaarde, head of Studio Roosegaarde in Netherlands, the answer is much simpler: Just line roads with glow-in-the-dark paint. After cutting through much red tape, his team was allowed to do just that – at least for a 0.3 mile stretch.

In place, these lines will appear white during the day, where they soak up sunlight, convert that to energy, and then release it through the night – for about eight hours. As with solar panels, this design would prevent the lines from requiring external power, and of course, the streetlights above could remain off.

At this point, the technology seems rather amazing. There are a number of caveats, though, such as the fact that a snowfall could render them useless. So could an area of the world that barely gets any sunlight. Perhaps worst of all, Roosegaarde says that governments are making it difficult for him to deploy this technology. That kind of reminds me of this.

Hopefully this won’t be the last of this cool technology we hear of.

  • xOptix78

    That’s all well and good, and I’m sure TRON fans around the world are having a collective nerd-gasm right now, but streetlights do more than just light up the driving surface. They light the surrounding area giving drivers the ability to see possible hazards from all sides.

    I’d be less concerned about a technology that won’t light up the surrounding areas, not to mention be completely useless is some parts of the world (our snowplows would strip that stuff off like faster than a 20 sheet in a peeler bar), and sink the time and resources into coming up with a powerful, low drawing replacement for the standard street light, or research a smaller, more efficient solar panel to help reduce the current draw at the very least.

    The technology is cool, but how many hungry mouths could be fed by the money used to research and test this useless product?

    • http://techgage.com/ Jamie Fletcher

      If the area had no street lights to begin with (such as the area tested), then these luminescent strips are better than nothing at all, not to mention significantly cheaper than installing hundreds of independent lights with photovoltaics. Sure, these strips are not perfect, but they at least do something. Long term viability, lights would be better.

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