Paints to light up the world


Luminous paints first came to my attention back in 2012 and 2014. Back then, there were numerous media reports about glow-in-the-dark roads in Belgium and the Netherlands, where the light was provided not by street lights, but by phosphorescence

Phosphorescent edge coating

In one example, the edges of a test track were coated with a phosphorescent powder that, it was claimed, could obviate the need for conventional lighting of national roads and motorways in both countries. Then, last year, the Polish went one step further. They converted an entire cycle path into a glow-in-the dark test track.

The technology is simple and could potentially save a great deal of energy while also reducing the carbon footprint of street lighting. It has yet to make the big breakthrough, however, as the initial costs are reportedly still too high. In the meanwhile, LED technology is turning classic street lighting into a fairly energy-efficient medium. Unfortunately, highway engineering is not exactly an industry that is renowned for being innovative and the switch-over to LED lights is progressing at a snail’s pace.

Glowing at specific temperatures

Nevertheless, I find the concept exciting. You see, the initiators of the Dutch and Belgian test tracks didn’t stop there. They came up with the idea of paints that start glowing at specific temperatures, e.g. to warn of black ice. Again, nothing has come of this so far.

Even though this innovation has yet to make “big time”, it’s a nice example of what paints and coatings are capable of and how they can be brought to the attention of the public at large.

And to finish, here’s a short video of a glowing footpath in Cambridge:

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