José Carlos Rubio (University of San Nicolás Hidalgo de Michoacán), developed a luminescent cement that could be used to light up roads, bike paths and walking trails at night without the need for electricity, using solar energy. In addition, this cement could also light up various buildings and structures.
Related: Luminescent cycle path in Poland busy during sunny day.
Nine years ago, when the project started, he realized that there was nothing like it all over the world, so he started working on it. The main problem was that the cement is an opaque body that does not allow light to penetrate inside.
It is made from cement powder with small flakes of glass, which activate on contact with water. The crystals form a gel which, when receiving sunlight, blocks available energy and then emits it overnight.
According to Rubio, global cement production in 2015 was close to 4 billion tonnes, which is where this new material can have a largely commercial market. For the first few hours, buildings, roads, highways or any form of structure with this new cement would absorb solar energy and then reject it overnight for about 12 hours.
Unlike fluorescent plastics with a half-life of 3 years, this new cement is resistant to sunlight, does not degrade when exposed to ultraviolet rays and has an estimated useful life of 100 years. It is also environmentally friendly because of the materials it is made of; sand, dust or mud which turns into gel, of which the only residue during its manufacture is water vapor.
Streetlights represent around 25 to 50% of municipal energy in most cities, with this new cement cities would use fewer streetlights to light. Currently, it exists in blue or green, and the light intensity can be regulated to avoid unnecessary glare or glare.