Article in Le Parisien: In Gironde, a bright idea to secure the roads

2 January 2021

A former CNRS researcher has developed a photoluminescent road paint, which captures daylight and lights up at night. Patented in 2019, it has won over several municipalities.

By Klervi Le Cozic, January 2, 2021 at 11:43 am

 La peinture lumineuse de Jean-François Letard a déjà été installée dans une trentaine de communes en France ainsi qu’en Belgique et au Cameroun.

Jean-François Letard’s luminous painting has already been installed in around thirty municipalities in France as well as in Belgium and Cameroon. LP / Klervi Le Cozic

 

When night falls on the university campus of Pessac (Gironde), a net of light emerges along the cycle path. Arrows, continuous line, give way, cyclists have seen them without difficulty for two years thanks to a luminescent paint which “captures the light of day and remains illuminated for ten hours, without electricity”, summarizes Jean-François Letard, his inventor, recently awarded the Neo-Aquitaine Economy Prize.

Nothing predestined the former director of research at CNRS at the Bordeaux Institute of condensed matter chemistry to become a business leader. But his luminescent paint, patented in 2019 after four years of research, quickly won over. And for good reason, it was unheard of. “A painting of this kind had been tested in the Netherlands but it molded in a few days …”

Pas question d’ajouter une pollution lumineuse

On campus, a few bikes pass on the track. “It’s easier to anticipate turns and stops because you can see at 80 m against only ten with a bicycle dynamo” underlines the photochemist who sees in his innovation a way of encouraging gentle movements and of taking relaying streetlights when there are none or when they go out at 1 a.m. to reduce light pollution.

For the researcher, there is therefore no question of adding pollution, “paint is 50 to 100 times weaker than public lighting. »Already installed on cycle paths in town or in the countryside in 30 French towns, LuminoKrom paint, manufactured in Pessac, has also been exported to Belgium and Cameroon and will soon be deployed for pedestrians and main roads. Already canvassed by large groups, Jean-François Letard does not intend to sell the secret of his technology, nor of his other innovations around smart pigments, which he wants to continue to manufacture on site, where he has hired about twenty people.

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