AU Company Testing ‘Glow-in-the-Dark’ Road Lines
Australian company Tarmac Linemarking completed a trial run of its photoluminescent line markings earlier this year, with the “glow-in-the-dark” highway lines recently going viral online. The project, tested in May, was a collaboration with OmniGrip and Vic Roads.
About the Coating
Similar to glow-in-the-dark stickers, the “smarter path” line markings use the natural science of photoluminescence. In the dark, the coating emits light it has absorbed and stored throughout the day, allowing the pavement markings to be seen better.
For testing earlier this year, one kilometer (about 3,281 feet) of Metong Road in the southeast portion of Victoria was coated for the trial. John Emanuelli from Tarmac told news.com.au that since the testing, he has been swamped by businesses and councils looking to have their paths illuminated.
“There’s been a lot of interest since the trial run, it’s a great product,” he said. Emanuelli added that there are plenty of other applications for the technology, such as dark carparks or boat ramps.
He also said that overcast days could affect the light’s longevity, the usually last “most of the night” after sunny days, including at dusk when animals make their way onto roadways.
According to reports, the line markings have since gone “viral” on Reddit and Facebook, with nearly 50,000 up-votes and almost 100,000 shares, respectively.
“That looks like a good idea. Maybe it'll keep people in their lanes where they should be. I'm all for it. Too many people go over those other lines and on some roads, the lines are old and hard to see at night especially if it's raining,” said one user.
According to Regional Roads Victoria, the project was one of 70 trials part of a $4 million government program to install new innovative treatments across the state. For this particular project, the government hoped it would provide drivers with a “stronger visual signal to follow in low light.”
“This treatment will make it easier for drivers to see the linemarkings or signage and provide stronger definition coming up to intersections and curves, giving drivers more time to react and preventing them from veering from their lane,” it said.
“This will be particularly beneficial for people who are not familiar with driving through the area.”
Additional projects include LED-lit pavement near intersections, as well as other reflective road markings.
Other Glowing Roads, Concrete
Back in 2016, a team at Michoacan University of San Nicolás de Hidalgo, led by José Carlos Rubio Ávalos, developed a phosphorescent cement that it sees finding use in the construction of highways, bike paths or buildings.
Through the use of additives, the researchers were able to prevent the formation of crystals that occur in the production of cement; this creates a “material with a noncrystalline structure—similar to glass—that allows passage of light inside.”
Scientists can control the intensity of both luminescence and color by adjusting the number of additives added during production. The product, which is both eco-friendly and sustainable, Rubio Ávalos said in an interview at the time, emits light as a greenish-blue color. He added that he was working on reproducing it in red and purple as well.
Because of the physical changes that occur within the cement, it was not able to be used in structural applications, however. Instead, the team notes are meant to be added to existing surfaces as a coating material. Daily, after the phosphorescent materials within the cement absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays, the surface should be able to glow in the dark for as long as 12 hours, even on cloudy days.
The following year, the City of Calgary in Canada looked at using luminescent paint on some of its more remote roads, eliminating the need for lighting systems while improving safety. The director of the city’s roads department told the Calgary Herald he is considering the approach for less-travelled roads with fewer pedestrians, where there is currently no lighting system.
More recently, in June this year, the American University in Cairo that four students have developed self-luminous concrete, aiming to light up roadways and pavement without using traditional energy sources. The “glow-in-the-dark” concrete absorbs sunlight and emits light in the dark.
According to the university’s release, Department of Construction Engineering undergraduate students Zainab Mahmoud, Fatma Elnefaly, Mayar Khairy and Menna Soliman created the concrete for their thesis graduation project.
The work was presented at the Transportation Research Board’s 101st annual meeting in Washington D.C. earlier this year. The research team also met with experts in the field, who provided recommendations on converting the project into a product.
“The concrete helps to reduce the massive amount of energy used in lighting highways or street signals needed for safe rides,” said Mohamed Nagib AbouZeid, professor of construction engineering and project supervisor, stressing sustainability and safety as two major themes for the project.
“Using this material in Egypt in such a context will reduce heavy reliance on electricity and accordingly be an active step towards fighting climate change and saving the environment,” Mahmoud explained, adding that the project aligns with Egypt’s sustainability goals.
While development is still in the early stages, said she is optimistic about the future of the research and highlights the need to improve and expand the work. This way, they could enhance the properties of the concrete produced and minimize its capital cost at the first stage.