Glowing Pavement And Striping

Maybe you remember glow in the dark silly putty. Perhaps, like the author of this article, you had glowing adhesive stars that you could put on the ceiling and walls of your childhood bedroom. For years, material that could glow in the dark was little more than a gimmick or a toy for children. However, some companies are making innovations that truly use glowing materials to the best of their capabilities. 

How does it work?

Before we start thinking about using glowing materials regularly we need to know how they work. Asphalt paving is a tried and true mix of aggregate and binder. It is tough, reliable, durable, recyclable, and inexpensive. this is what makes it one of the most used materials in the world. What about phosphorescent materials though? How can we be sure they are as reliable as asphalt and concrete?

All glowing items contain phosphors. Phosphors radiate visible light after being energized. In the case of glow-in-the dark paving and paints, the phosphors are energized from the light that hits them. Other items, such as glow sticks use a chemical reaction to energize the phosphors. The exact mix used in glowing materials like paving is a closely guarded industry secret however.

The phosphorescent materials used in paving are covered with water proof/durable clear materials. This extends their life and makes them suitable for use on roadways.

Read more about how glowing things work on How Stuff Works.com

What are the applications?

Fortunately the applications for glowing materials in construction and on roadways are many. Among them are glowing bike paths for cyclists and walkers/hikers, glowing road markings, and glowing paint on vehicles. Each application provides various benefits, in the realm of energy saving and safety. However, there are a few rather unusual drawbacks that glowing materials can be associated with.

Glowing road markings

A promising development in phosphorescence is for painting road markings. But why use glowing roads and road marking when we already have streetlights? That’s a fair questions. Here’s why it provides benefits:

  • Glowing road markings will emit light even in power outages. This benefits places prone to disaster as well as blackouts/brownouts. It’s also a big boon for developing countries that don’t have advanced power grids which can light the streets. 
  • Glowing road marking can help save money. Less money spent generating power for streetlights, especially on seldom-used roads is money saved. 
  • Glowing roadways and markings can reduce emissions. Not only is less money used on glowing roads, but less energy is used as well. With less need for energy to be used on the road, it can be used in more meaningful ways. If less fossil fuels are used for road lighting, less carbon dioxide emissions are produced, reducing the greenhouse effect.
  • In 2021, every road-ready vehicle comes with headlights. These provide more than enough light to work safely in conjunction with glowing road markings. 
  • These phosphorescent paints are incredibly adhesive and tough. They aren’t removed by snowplows and the abrasive course of nature. Snow plows and ice are some of the biggest causes for damage in and on paved roads.
  • Phosphorescent paints on roads work in a gigantic variety of climates. It can survive in temperatures up to 357 degrees Fahrenheit, and down to -103 degrees. This means that any country on Earth can use it. Locales in extreme climates need not fret about what materials to use for their roads.
  • The glowing paints last a long, long time. The products will keep glowing for over 25 years. That’s about as long as you can expect asphalt paving to last without every care possible taken for maintenance.
  • Luminescent roadways are efficient. After being exposed to sun for the day, they glow for 10-12 hours. The first few hours will be the brightest, but nonetheless, the glow will continue for up to a dozen hours.

The first highway with glowing road markings is already in use in the Netherlands. N329 in Oss is a pilot concept for the Smart Highway project. The glowing lights increase visibility and safety, while obviating frequent streetlights along the stretch of road. The project was built by Heijmans firm, particularly their Studio Roosegaarde, which works on urban innovations. 

There is one unfortunate, and slightly less safe side effect though. Many drivers find the roadway so pretty at night that they turn off their own lights to better appreciate it. 

The Utah Department of Transporation is experimenting with glow-in the dark paint as well.

Glowing bicycle pathways

Another of Studio Roosegaarde’s projects is the glowing bike pathway. This innovative design provides a safe, clear pathway for cyclists and pedestrians. Like the glowing road markings, it obviates the need for frequent lights along the path, reducing the energy and money cost. It also provides a beautiful and entertaining night time path. Some of the benefits of using glowing cycling and hiking paths are:

  • Helping lost walkers find their way.
  • Different paths could use different colors, easing navigation at night.
  • Bike and headlights are common and easy. Using them in combination with a glowing pathway keeps things safe and easy to see.

Pave your way to a brighter future

If your paving project is having trouble getting off the ground, then let us know. At Reliable Paving, we strive to complete our paving projects efficiently, cost effectively, and while completely satisfying our clients. We are paving contractors who have built up a business over the last 35 years that is based on integrity, sustainability, quality, and of course, reliability. If you have a project that needs done, or just one in mind, don’t hesitate to message us and find out how we do your project to the most exacting standards.