Solar-powered cement that glows in the dark and is able to withstand the harsh effects of the sun's ultraviolet rays for 100 years is something that could revolutionize the solar road industry.
For the past several years, solar road has grown popular because it is a different way of lighting a road. However, regular glow-in-the-dark materials do not last long because they are made of plastic that easily degrades after only several years of exposure to the sun.
Then José Carlos Rubio from Michoacan's University of San Nicolas Hidalgo (UMSNH) created cement that emits light without the need for batteries or solar cells and can last for a hundred years.
Rubio shared that he worked on the project for nine years and one of the challenges he faced while working on the project was the cement's opaque material that prevents the light to pass through its interior.
So he proceeded to modify the cement's micro-structure to remove the crystals. With this, he was able to come up with a translucent gel that absorbs solar energy and lights up when it is dark.
Rubio's work is not limited to cement, however. It is also applicable for use in plaster and it creates a beautiful effect against a dark background.
The cement emits only a green or blue color but its light intensity could be adjusted depending on where the material will be applied or used. Rubio said that the light produced by the cement is not dependent on direct sunlight because it can also "recharge" even during gloomy days. The material can continuously emit light for 12 hours.
The cement is also environmentally safe because its materials are from dust, sand or clay, and its only residue is water steam.
Rubio is enthusiastic that his project would be of use in the global cement industry that had a produce of 4 billion tons in 2015.
Rubio's revolutionary work has inspired others to replicate and improve the material.
"Due to this patent (the first one for this university), others have surfaced worldwide. In the UK, we received recognition from the Newton fund, given by the Royal Engineering Academy of London, which chooses global success cases in technology and entrepreneurship," says Rubio.