Could glow in the dark products provide enough light to work by?

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Kim Morgan

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Kim Morgan  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris

We hope you can offer some advice regarding the following.

My daughter is working on a science project focusing on alternative sources of light energy in places that don't have access to electricity: like informal settlements.

The devastation that results from recurring wildfires caused by a toppled candle in the dark is a key motivating factor.  

She would like to investigate the potential of glow in the dark paints /powders/products to provide enough light for a tiny shack.

If a  child could do its homework with the help of such lighting all the better! So far many of the the glow in the dark products produced in South Africa have limitations in this regard. 

Have you by chance  come across any new research that could assist this project.

If not, any advice you could offer in this regard will be greatly appreciated. 

Thanking you


What do you think?
« Last Edit: 19/01/2011 17:30:03 by _system »


Offline imatfaal

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Kim - could you and your daughter not increase your area of research to include the affordability of small solar panels with attached battery and lights?  In essences they are doing the same thing as the "permanent" glow-in-the-dark materials - soaking up the sun's energy during daylight and releasing it in the evening/night time.  The glow in the dark materials that actually produce light (like glowrods), rather than store it up and release it, are very expensive as they run out of  usable chemical energy very quickly
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Offline CliffordK

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There are three types of glow technology.
  • Chemical...  as in glowsticks.  Probably not what you want.
  • Those that absorb energy for a brief period, then release it in the dark
  • Radioactive Materials
The chemical glowsticks would be little different than buying batteries.

I haven't seen other types of "glow" materials being very effective for reading light.  I tried using a Kerosene light a while ago and it was difficult to use at best.

Radioactive materials are used in businesses, for example Tritium Exit Lights.  However, I wouldn't encourage the distribution in the public.

I'd second the idea of solar and wind energy technologies.  When configuring a commmunity, there would be benefits of a distributed electric grid rather than a centralized grid.

There are low wattage DC bulbs available.  It doesn't take a very large system to run a 3 to 5 watt DC Bulb.