Glow-in-the-Dark Highway Opened in the Netherlands

By Carl Engelking | April 14, 2014 3:16 pm
glowing lines

Conceptual image of a “glowing highway.” Credit: Roosegaarde Studio

If you ask for directions in the small city of Oss in the Netherlands, a local may tell you to merge onto Highway N329 and take the first exit after the highway ceases glowing in the dark. No, you haven’t mistranslated the conversation. Dutch engineers are testing glow-in-the-dark road markings along a 500-meter stretch of N329 to see if glowing roads could someday replace streetlights.

The road markings are painted with a photo-luminescent powder that charges during the day and releases a greenish glow at night. Once the paint absorbs sunlight, it can glow for up to eight hours in the dark. The N329 now features a triple-striped pattern of glowing lines on each side of the highway.

The experimental project is a partnership between interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde and Dutch civil engineers. Roosegaarde first introduced the concept in 2012, but government bureaucracy added a couple years onto the process, the Independent reports.

Rethinking Roadways

Glowing road markings are just scratching the surface of Roosegaarde’s ideas for constructing “smart highways.” His team hopes to develop giant road markings, such as snowflakes, that appear on the road when the temperature drops to a certain level. Other conceptual alterations include driving lanes that can charge electric vehicles, and dynamic lane markings that shift from dashed to solid lines based on traffic.

“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,” Roosegaarde told the BBC.

The glowing lines aren’t without their limitations — hence the testing. For one, an eight-hour glow period is no match for the 13 daily hours of darkness the country sees during winter. Secondly, it isn’t clear how the glowing paint will hold up to abuse from the weather and vehicles.

And finally, there’s a third, more human, problem: Drivers are turning off their headlights to enjoy the radioactive glow of the road they’re driving on.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: transportation
  • Paul Shipley

    Pedestrians, snow, ice and keeping road markings up to scratch would all be problems here.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Longmire

    Good idea but simply making “Bott’s Dots” more reflective and perhaps more numerous would be more realistic, especially that far north.

  • Dews

    Rainbow Road!

  • Matt

    Perhaps guardrails, “street lamps”, mile markers, etc. covered in the glow in the dark material can help supplement? They would experience considerably less wear and tear than the markings on the road that are being driven on.

  • stevedodge833

    They already have reflective tech for road markings to make them visible all night long, using glass micro-spheres on paint or similar materials for one example. They require a car to have headlights of course, but that’s a good thing.

    Along with the lack of any usable lighting at a key period a few hours before dawn, a glow-in-the-dark road is just temptation for teenagers and juvenile-minded adults to make a new game….turn OFF their headlights on these ghostly roads and seeing how far they can drive without them. The thought of the danger to other drivers, pedestrians, animals and other unseen obstacles is mind-numbing.

    I believe this one wasn’t given enough thought. I hope nobody gets hurt before they learn better.

    • Bonusje

      But then more stripes on road(or whole road) would contrast out any body and form in front?

      Nice ideas nice concepts

  • Bonusje

    also a very tiny uv component in the headlights of all these cars together can uphold the fluoresence

  • Christy Root

    That’s the good news and glow in the dark highways helps a lot to the drivers all night long. Glow stones and Epoxy paints are the highest performing, non-toxic photo luminescent aggregates in the world. It has highest luminosity, it will visible in the dark as well as in zero visibility area.

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