There's a quarter mile stretch of highway in the Netherlands that now features light-absorbing glow-in-the-dark road markings. It's a pilot project that, if proven effective, could dramatically reduce our need for streetlights.
The project is a collaboration between interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde and Dutch civil engineering firm Heijmans. The paint contains a "photo-luminising" powder that charges up during the daytime and slowly releases an ethereal green glow at night. Heijmans says that it's a sustainable alternative to places where no conventional lighting is present.
The 500 meter stretch of highway is located about 100 km (62 miles) south east of Amsterdam.
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Roosegaarde told Wired.co.uk Heijmans had managed to take its luminescence to the extreme — "it's almost radioactive", said Roosegaarde. You can get some sense of that in this embedded tweet, which appears to show three stripes of varying shades of radioactive green along both the highway's edges.
According to a report in Dutch News, Heijmans wants to expand the project but has not yet secured any further contracts. There's no news yet on how the paint holds up against wear and tear — the glow lasts up to eight hours once powered throughout the day, but a patchy inconsistent strip would not pave the way as effectively as energy-guzzling street lights
But it's of course in the interest of road operators and local government to employ these types of trials, considering the cost savings. However, when Roosegaarde spoke with Wired.co.uk a few months ago about his proposed smog-attracting electrostatic fields, to be deployed in Beijing (yes, he's helped create a smog vacuum), he explained that bureaucracy has been a big problem. In October, Roosegaarde said the project had been ready for months, but was being held up because of a licence application and approvals from local government.
In future, highways could include weather markings, like snowdrops that would appear when the temperature drops below a certain threshold.
Images: Studio Roosegaarde