A scientist in Mexico has created glowing cement that absorbs solar energy during the day and emits light after sun-down.
Claiming the engineered cement can last a hundred years, he says it could make roads and structures glow in the dark, cutting the cost of street-lighting.
The patent is the first for Mexico’s University of San Nicolas Hidalgo, says the researcher behind the invention, Dr. José Carlos Rubio, according to InvestigaciÃ³n y Desarrollo.
"Nine years ago, when I started the project, I realised there was nothing similar worldwide, and so I started to work on it," Rubio said. "The main issue was that cement is an opaque body that doesn’t allow the pass of light to its interior."
Rubio said that ordinary cement is a powder which, when water is added, dissolves and starts to become a gel. However, in the process crystalline flakes are formed as unwanted by-products.
His work focused on modifying the micro-structure of the cement to eliminate crystals and make it completely gel, which helped it absorb solar energy and return it to the environment as light.
Rubio said that since global cement production amounted to about 4 billion tons in 2015, the market for glowing cement could be huge.
While most fluorescent materials are made from plastic and have an average of life span of three years under harsh UV rays, this new cement is sun-resistant and will last 100 years, Rubio said.
He added that it can emit light for around 12 hours.
Currently his cement gives off blue or green light only. He claims that the light intensity can be regulated to avoid dazzling drivers or cyclist.
"Due to this patent – the first one for this university – others have surfaced worldwide," Rubio said.
The research is in its commercialisation stage, with its inclusion in plaster and other construction products also being explored.
Top photograph: It could make roads and structures glow in the dark (InvestigaciÃ³n y Desarrollo)