NOS / Louis Dekker

Dutch Highway Introduces Glow-In-The-Dark Paint

A Dutch highway has become the first lit by glow-in-the-dark paint — a project aimed at reducing street light use.

By Jake Godin | April 14, 2014

What's flat, half a kilometer long and glows in the dark like something out of a Tron movie? If you guessed a stretch of highway in the Netherlands, you're right. And pretty good at guessing.

Welcome to the N329 highway outside of Oss, a city in the southern Netherlands. Proposed in 2012 by Studio Roosegaarde, the glow-in-the-dark streets are part of a project to improve the common highway. (Via NOS)

The 500-meter stretch of road is painted with a photo-luminescent powder that gathers energy during the day and releases the green light at night, replacing the need for energy-consuming street lights.

Studio Roosegaarde's founder and lead designer Daan Roosegaarde told Wired in 2012 that "It's like the glow in the dark paint you and I had when we were children. ... Now, it's almost radioactive."

Roosegaarde explained part of his reasoning for his glow-in-the-dark concept in an interview with the BBC earlier last year. 

"The government is shutting down street lights at night to save money so energy is becoming much much more important than we could have ever imagined 50 years ago. These roads are about safety ... "

And as if glowing highways weren't enough, Roosegaarde's studio has even more plans in store for what he calls the "Route 66 of the future."

Roosegaarde envisions weather-reactive road surfaces to create icons during cold weather and motion-sensing lights that light up when cars are near. No plans to implement these have yet been made. (Via YouTube / NMANewsDirect)

Discover Magazine noted some of the potential flaws in the futuristic highways though, saying: "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."

Paired with the limited duration and questionable durability, The Independent mentions that folks were "switching off their lights to see how 'beautiful' the designs were" — probably not the safest way to appreciate the luminescent paint.

So far, there's no word on any upcoming roads getting similar glowing paintjobs.

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