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Netherlands unveils glow in the dark road

A new era for road marking has been unveiled in the Netherlands after a 500 meter stretch of highway was opened featuring glow in the dark marking. The paint, which contains ‘photo-luminising’ powder charges up during the day and slowly releases a green light at night.

Dutch civil engineering firm Heijmans collaborated with interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde on the idea and is being piloted on a stretch of the N329 in Oss later this month. Once the paint has stored power during the day it can light up the road for eight hours, doing away with the need for street lights.

Mr Roosegaarde told the press, “The government is shutting down streetlights at night to save money, energy is becoming much more important than we could have imagined 50 years ago. This road is about safety and envisaging a more self-sustainable and more interactive world.”

Mr Roosegaarde believes that the technology could become interactive one day, displaying warnings and speed restrictions, he said, “I was completely amazed that we somehow spend billions on the design and R&D of cars but somehow the roads – which actually determine the way our landscape looks – are completely immune to that process.”

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Heijmans went on to say that the technology was, “a sustainable alternative to places where no conventional lighting is present”.

Professor Pete Thomas, from the Transport Safety Research Centre at Loughborough University welcomed the innovation but advised caution saying, “We have some high visibility markings already on roads in the UK, plus cats-eye technology etc. So the question is how much better than these is this alternative?

“If we put this technology on all unlit roads that would be a lot of kilometres and it would be a big investment so if safety improvement is the target then we need hard evidence about how this compares to what we already have and to back up any safety claims.”

Initially the research team working on the glow in the dark paint are planning to develop weather symbols that would appear on the road once a certain temperature is reached, such as ice or snow warnings.

Engineering firm Heijmans are keen to apply the glow in the dark paint to other roads and are currently in talks to expand the project to other areas of Europe and the world.

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