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Cement Gets a Glow-in-the-Dark Makeover

The patented approach has a broad range of commercial application possibilities, including as an eco-friendly way to light roads and buildings.


Cement isn’t the sexiest of materials, but it’s certainly one of the hardest working, found in everything from city sidewalks to buildings. Recently, the workhorse got a makeover, ditching its gray and opaque texture for a glow-in-the-dark look that has applications that transcend mere cool design.

According to an article in Tech Times, Dr. José Carlos Rubio, a scientist at Mexico's University of San Nicolas Hidalgo, came up with a way to create a form of cement that emits light without the need for batteries or solar cells, and, wait for it … the glow-in-the-dark approach can last for 100 years. The possibilities are boundless: The global cement industry produced 4 billion tons last year, and Rubio and his proponents see huge commercial potential for the material as an eco-friendly alternative for lighting roads and buildings.

Articles describe Rubio’s patented approach as altering the micro-structure of cement to eliminate the opaque crystalline byproducts of its normal production process, which prevented any chance of phosphorescence. The result is a form of a translucent gel able to absorb solar energy and produce light when dark. The color is green or blue, and the intensity of the light (which is continuously emitted for 12 hours) can be adjusted by how and where the material is applied.

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