The introduction of innovative new glow-in-the-dark roads in the Netherlands could slash energy consumption compared to conventional street lights.
The Netherlands is trialling the use of light-absorbent glow-in-the-dark road markings along a 500-metre stretch of highway as an energy efficient alternative to conventional street lights.
The concept of the markings was first unveiled by self-proclaimed “social design lab” Studio Roosegaarde back in 2012 and has now been transformed into reality along a half-kilometre run of the N329 highway in the city of Oss in the southern Netherlands.
Daan Roosegaarde, founder and leader designer of the studio, said his motivation for designing the markings was the complacency and indifference of most people with respect to the functionality of the modern world’s roadways.
“One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave,” said Roosegaarde to Wired. “I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the strewn and becomes part of us.”
The illuminating road markings were created by incorporating a light-absorbing photo-luminiscent powder into the road paint. This innovative powder, developed by Roosegaarde in conjunction with road construction firm Heijmans, possesses the ability to absorb energy from the sun during the day, enabling it to emit a radiant light for as long as eight hours once night falls.
This in turn achieves a huge reduction in electricity consumption given the copious amounts of energy used by street lights illuminating idle roads throughout the course of the night.
The experience of travelling along a road installed with the luminous glow-in-the-dark street markings has been compared by one commentator to driving through a fairy tale. The markings emit an ethereal green light which in addition to illuminating the roadway ahead for drivers, also serves to create a striking aesthetic effect.
Heijmans hopes the success of the initial trial in Oss will spur the adoption of the glow-in-the-dark road markings throughout other parts of the Netherlands. According to the Dutch media, however, no further contracts have been secured by the company thus far, with concerns remaining about the ability of the markings to withstand the erosion caused by the elements and speeding tires, as well as whether or not they can provide effective illumination.