On especially clear, moonless nights I can look up and see the Milky Way scattered across the sky, looking like diamonds someone has carelessly spilled across the heavens -- or like a trail leading to somewhere new and exciting, if only I could upend myself and walk on it. An innovative new product called STARPATH might not let you walk among the constellations, but it is pretty heavenly from an environmental and public safety perspective. And, thanks to the fact that the test application is working so well, you might find it in an area near you pretty soon!
Here's how it works: a fluid with specialized UV-sensitive particles is applied to existing walkways made from concrete and other materials and allowed to harden. During the day, the particles absorb light, and at night, they emit it, lighting up the walkway in a beautiful array of gentle blue light. The light is strong and clear enough to eliminate the need for overhead lighting, and unlike overhead lights, STARPATH doesn't burn out, rely on electricity, or take up energy resources.
From an environmental perspective, that makes STARPATH a fantastic resource for parks, urban areas, campuses, and other regions where exterior lighting is needed for safety and navigability. Traditional exterior lighting for nighttime can be resource hungry and it requires continual maintenance to check on bulbs, confirm that electrical systems are working, repair vandalism, and more. San Diego electricians and others have full-time jobs managing their city lighting systems. STARPATH is much less vulnerable to these problems -- and as a side bonus, it creates less light pollution, so people walking on it have a fighting chance at actually seeing the stars, even if they're in the middle of the city!
But how good is that resurfacing for the people walking on the pavement? The developer, PRO-TEQ, is a bit of an expert in pavement surfacing and polyurethane treatments, fortunately. This product is non-slip, which can actually make it safer than existing surfaces, and it's also water resistant. In areas with frequent rainy weather like the United Kingdom, where PRO-TEQ is based, materials scientists have to know how to keep water off the surfaces they develop, and how to address the need for slip-resistance in outdoor surfaces, so STARPATH is about as snug and secure as you can get.
In addition, it's been specifically designed with mixed uses including cycling and walking in mind, so it accommodates a variety of mobility levels and ways of getting around. Thanks to the high visibility provided, the risk of accidents is also lower. In college towns and other high-traffic areas, this is an important feature.
It's also rather beautiful. Several particle sizes are available to change the look and feel of the glowing pathway, which stretches off into the distance like something out of a fairy tale. The highly cost-effective surfacing material could be a great choice for organizations, city planners, and individuals who want an affordable, beautiful, efficient, and highly-functional coating for paved surfaces. It doesn't take long to apply and harden, so here's hoping it works its way around the world, because I can't wait to see it around my town.
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.