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Light-emitting cement is a green construction material designed to illuminate highways, roads, and bicycle lanes without using electricity. Light-emitting cement absorbs solar energy during the day and radiates light at night.

This innovative cement was developed by Dr. Jose Carlos Rubio from the Michoacan University of Saint Nicholas of Hidalgo in Mexico. The research focused on modifying the microstructure of cement to absorb solar energy and emit light in darkness.

Light-Emitting Cement Pavements
Figure-1: Light-Emitting Cement Pavements

This article explains the principle behind light-emitting cement and some of its features.

Principle of Light-Emitting Cement

Cement is an opaque material that does not allow light to pass through its interior. When water is added to cement, crystal flakes are formed as a result of hydration reaction. These crystals block the absorption of solar energy.

The researcher’s main objective was to modify this microstructure of cement to eliminate the crystals so that the incoming light can penetrate deep into the cement or concrete structure. The cement is also made phosphorescent so that the solar energy is absorbed and released.

The light-emitting cement, when combined with water, changes completely to gel form so that it absorbs solar energy and releases it in the form of light.

In the day time, the light-emitting cement structure acts as a storage device. During this time, the whole mass is soaked in sunlight, and the electrons within the mass are in an excited state. During the night, these electrons return to their original state due to which light is emitted. This cement can provide light continuously for 12 hours without the use of electricity.

Most fluorescent materials made out of plastic normally have a life of three years. They decay with the absorption of ultraviolet rays. But Dr. Rubio claims light-emitting cement is a sun-resistant cement that has a life of 100 years.

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When used in highways, the intensity of light emitted by the cement can be regulated to avoid unnecessary glare for the drivers and cyclists.

Composition of Light-Emitting Cement

Light-emitting cement is made out of sand, silica, industrial waste, alkali, and water. To give it the light-emitting property, the materials go through a polycondensation process performed at room temperature.

The chemical reaction between these raw materials produces a strong mixture that looks like a gel. It also gives fewer amounts of unwanted crystal flakes. The only residue left after its production is steam. Hence, the product and its manufacturing is eco-friendly process. The material is currently manufactured in green or blue.

During the manufacturing, the scientists add certain additives to alter the optical properties of the material so that it converts to a phosphorescent material. Hence, the microstructure changes to a non-crystalline structure that is similar to a glass which allows the passage of light.

Conclusion

The light-emitting cement has garnered the attention of several countries, which shows the commercial demand for the material. Currently, the research is being carried out to move into a commercialization stage. The inclusion of light-emitting cement with plaster and other construction products is also under research and development.

FAQs

What is light-emitting cement?

Light-emitting cement is a green construction material designed to illuminate highways, roads, and bicycle lanes without the use of electricity. Light-emitting cement follows the principle of absorbing solar energy during the day and emitting lights at night.

What is the composition of light-emitting cement?

Light-emitting cement is a combination of sand, alkali, silica, industrial waste, and water. During the manufacturing process, certain additives are added to convert the material to a phosphorescent material.

What is the working principle of light-emitting cement?

The light-emitting cement combines with water to form a gel which absorbs solar energy and releases it in the form of light.
In the daytime, the light-emitting cement structure acts as a storage device. During this time, the whole mass is soaked in sunlight, and the electrons within the mass are in an excited state. During the night, these electrons return to their original state due to which light is emitted.

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