How cool would it be? To walk on roads that automatically lit themselves up the moment there is a car or a pedestrian walking! Imagine the beauty of it. Remember those beautiful bio-luminescent beaches? That light up around your ankles the moment you walk into them? Or those moments when the waves crash on the beach and emit a heavenly glow? Well, that might soon be your roads if the new cement technology developed by scientists finds its way into the market and on shelves! No, we do not mean that this cement is like waves or it is in fluid form but rather it emits a glow all by itself and is stunningly beautiful!

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Cement manufacturing is one of the largest carbon dioxide emitting processes leading to maximum global warming. The new process of manufacturing the solar cement is environment safe and emits zero carbon dioxide, helping lesson the carbon footprint by a great deal. A team of researchers from George Washington University in Ashburn, Virginia have named the new cement Solar Thermal Electrochemical Production of cement (STEP cement) and instead of emitting carbon dioxide in the manufacturing process, the limestone is separated into lime, graphite and oxygen or lime, CO and part O2. Though not luminescent, this cement is certainly much better than the one we use today.

solar cement

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And then, there’s the other type of cement which glows. But just how is it created? And is it possible to have it for real? Well yes. The cement is solar-powered cement that traps the solar energy during the daytime and emits a light from the cement itself at night. So, there’s no need for street-lamps as the street itself begins to glow. Researchers from another university, Michoacan’s University of San Nicolas Hidalgo (UMSNH), Mexico have created a gel-like cement that emits light at night. This type of cement can be used even on highways (Indian highways do not have streetlights) and thus, prevent accidents too. Also, the light from the cement can often keep animals at bay (wild animals are scared of light) and prevent road mishaps or accidental animal deaths.

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Right now, fluorescent strips or paint or reflective lights are used along side the roads and these strips or lights do not have a long shelf life. They last for maximum 3 years post which they have to be changed,. However, in the case of light emitting cement, it can last for years on end and at times even over a 100 years without needing to be replaced. The cement emits blue or green coloured light and the brightness can be adjusted so that the glare does not affect drivers or is not too powerful. Dr. Jose Carlos Rubio, from UMSNH and his team modified the structure of cement to form a gel-like substance that is translucent instead of opaque. This gel like substance can then absorb the sun-light and store it in the form of solar energy.

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As Dr. Rubio explains, “Common cement is like dust, and when it’s added to water it dissolves like an effervescent pill. In that moment it starts to become a gel, similar to the one used for hair styling, but much stronger and much more resistant. At the same time, some crystal flakes are formed; these are unwanted sub-products in hardened cement. cement is ecological, because it is composed of sand, dust or clay, which becomes the gel, and the only residue after the making is steam.” His team has already patented their creation and they are currently getting a lot of recognition for their creation.

So, when do you think we’ll see glowing roads in India?