Remember those glow-in-the-dark stars you stuck on your ceiling as a kid? The ones that you could shine a light on for a second to make them glow brighter? Well, a UK company called Pro-Teq is now using that same technology to provide a low-cost way to illuminate streets and walkways.
Brilliant, right? It’s kind of mind boggling that nobody thought of doing this before, especially since those glowing plastic toys have been around for decades.
The new coating, coincidentally called “StarPath,” is a water resistant, spray-on treatment that absorbs UV light during the day, and emits a blue glow during the night. This is possible thanks to the inclusion of a phosphorescent compound, but it’s apparently a bit more sophisticated than the stuff that’s used in toys.
Unlike those glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs you had back in the day, this coating has the ability to react to varying levels of ambient light. On a bright moonlit night, for example, a pathway coated with StarPath would glow slightly dimmer than it would on a night that’s pitch black. This way, the coating is able to store energy and emit light when it’s most needed.
At this point, the company has only applied StarPath to about 1,600 square feet of walking paths around Cambridge, UK. Amazingly, the process only took about half an hour, and the paths were open for use just four hours later. It’s a small start, but Pro-Teq has big plans for the technology. In the future, the company hopes to use StarPath to illuminate roadways and provide cities with a low-cost alternative to streetlights.
It’s too early to call if the technology will actually gain widespread use, but we’re definitely keeping our fingers crossed for glow-in-the-dark highways in 2014. Find out more on Pro-Teq’s website