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New Concrete Pavers Light the Way

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

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For pool decks and pavement that catch attention and provide more safety, a German company has introduced a new technology: concrete that glows in the dark.

The products, branded as NighTec Leuchsteine (light), come from concrete product supplier KANN GmbH Baustoffwerke, using photoluminescent raw materials developed by NighTec GmbH & Co. KG in Bonn.

Leuchsteine Leuchsteine
Photos: NighTec

The concrete glows for about 10 hours each evening, providing both decorative and practical benefits, NighTec says.

NighTec's technology is now several years old and has found application in marking paints, resin systems, aggregates, wood lacquers, interior wall paints, stones, and flooring. Its line of "crunchies" and aggregates can be incorporated into engineered stone, terrazzo, concrete slabs and paving blocks, and finishes.

In addition to raw materials, the company produces semi-finished and finished products.

Embedded Phosphorescence

The NighTec Leuchsteine concrete products, designed for industrial and commercial use, are powered by sunlight. Phosphorescent crystals embedded in the concrete capture the sun's energy and glow in the evening for about 10 hours, the company says.

The concrete appears white during the day and can glow in green or blue, depending on the coating chosen.

NighTec Leuchsteine

Blue or green phosphorescent crystals can be embedded into concrete, engineered stone, wall paints, industrial coatings, flooring and other materials.

The glow is adequate to light stairwells, pavement, roads, helicopter pads and emergency exits, the company says. It can also be used as a design feature to brighten decks and walkways in architectural settings.

Concrete and Coatings

In addition to the Leuchsteine concrete products, NighTec offers its own mix for manufacturing noctilucent (glow in the dark) concrete. The grained rough mass is designed for primary use in cement-based concrete products. The mix is formulated for use under the same conditions as normal concrete aggregates, according to NighTec.

The company's marking paint system for concrete, asphalt and bituminous substrates is supplied as a filler paste or as a sprayable glow-in-the-dark paint system. NighTec says the product has high luminosity and high resistance.

NighTec also makes an interior wall paint that is applied like conventional paints.

The company says that the products offer concrete a wholly new advantage—the ability to emit light—without the use of radioactive, phorphorus or toxic materials.

NighTec Leuchsteine

"Light cycling" technology allows concrete to emit light without the use of radioactive, phorphorus or toxic materials.

Such "light cycling” technology could provide significant energy savings, the company says. It estimates, based on future building renovations that use illuminating materials, that photoluminescent concrete could save 212 million megawatt hours annually in Germany.


Tagged categories: Asphalt; Building materials; Concrete; Decorative concrete; Green building; Health and safety; Interior Wall Coatings; Maintenance + Renovation; Specialty Coatings; Traffic paint

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/18/2013, 9:24 AM)

While I can certainly see the usefulness for marking emergency exits due to the short timeframe between a power outage and evacuation, I have yet to see a "glow in the dark" product which actually gives a useful amount of light all night outdoors.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (4/19/2013, 11:22 AM)

Depends on what you consider a "useful amount of light", Tom. I don't think you'll be reading the paper by glow in the dark product anytime soon, but as a way to hilight the edge of a stair (or two or three) for a while after dark it might be an idea. I agree that most of these products, especially up north, don't store enough energy to give an all-night duration and that is a definite short coming.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/26/2013, 10:11 AM)

I think we're on the same page for "useful" - bright enough to aid in seeing the edge of the stair is a good benchmark. I've not seen a product which actually will do this all night, unless it has supplemental illumination (recharging) at least part of the time. This limitation makes similar products useful for emergency building evacuations - the stairwell is illuminated by overhead lights until the start of the emergency, so the glow paint will be fully "charged" when the lights go out. It could be this product actually would last all night on its own - I just haven't seen one yet which will. In the article photographs where the sky is visible, it is pretty obviously right after sunset - the sky is not even black yet.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (4/30/2013, 10:46 AM)

Yeah, sounds like we're on the same page, Tom. But living up north...where most of the year it seems we have less daylight than night...I guess I don't expect it to last all night. I do agree, though...add this to the battery back-up stairwell lights and you've got a great system for getting out of a building when the main lights go out.

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