Special Features

Image Libraries

Bioluminescent trees may replace street lights

image from the movie 'Avatar'
Might glowing trees like in the movie ‘Avatar’ soon illuminate our cities?

Now here is a fascinating story:

Taiwanese researchers have come up with the elegant idea of replacing streetlights with trees, by implanting their leaves with gold nanoparticles. This causes the leaves to give off a red glow, lighting the road for passersby without the need for electric power.

It gets better:

This ingenious triple threat of an idea could simultaneously reduce carbon emissions, cut electricity costs and reduce light pollution, without sacrificing the safety that streetlights bring… In an added bonus, the luminescence will cause the leaves’ chloroplasts to photosynthesize, which will result in more carbon being captured from the air while the streets are lit.

I don’t think street lights are near the top of anyone’s hit list for ugly urban clutter. In fact, many can be quite lovely. But I have to admit the prospect of cities that look like the glowing forests from ‘Avatar’ thrills my imagination.

Could it actually work? The article is sparse on details. How much does it cost to do this? What do the glowing trees actually look like? Would they reproduce? Does it still work in winter when the leaves have fallen off? I can think of a hundred reasons why this might never be applied to cities on a large scale, but what if it’s so crazy that it actually works? And what else are the mad scientists of the world dreaming up?

November 16th, 2010 | Permalink
Tags: environment, fun, urbandesign



About BeyondDC
Archive 2003-06


Category Tags:

  Greater Greater Washington
  Washington Post All Opinions Are Local Blog
  Denver Urbanism
  Streetsblog Network

BeyondDC v. 2013d | Email | Archive of posts from 2003-2006