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Bioluminescent Street Lights

Thanks to one of nature's most fascinating phenomena, all kinds of animals, plants, and fungi utilize enzymes to glow in the dark, whether in an enchanting woodland, in the sea, or - more improbably - in the town of Rambouillet, 35 miles from Paris.

Three glass vials filled with blue glowing bioluminescent liquid

A French design startup wants to reimagine public lighting by introducing bacterial and fungal bioluminescence to street lights. “Our goal is to change the way in which cities use light,” Sandra Rey, founder of the French startup Glowee, which is behind a public project in Rambouillet. “We want to create an ambiance that better respects citizens, the environment and biodiversity - and to impose this new philosophy of light as a real alternative.”

Critics say that bacterial bioluminescence produces less than a quarter of the light from the lowest acceptable public lighting LED bulbs; Rey says they’re missing the point, that glowing green fungi in public flower boxes, or tubes of saltwater filled with the blue glow of billions of tiny organisms offer the chance to reimagine what public lighting could be.

However, the EU has laws for minimum allowable street light illumination, for which Glowee remains 75 percent off the mark. But sustainability opens all doors on the continent, and Glowee has received €1.7 million from the EU to develop its technology, since it is carbon-neutral.


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