Street lights could one day be replaced by plants that glow in the dark.
That is the aim of a new French start-up company which wants to use a natural process so plants can enable us to see in the dark and make cities greener as a bonus.
Woodlight is run by two Strasbourg university PHD graduates who plan to develop bioluminescent plants as a light source to address the world’s problems of pollution, lack of greenery and high-energy consumption.
Company chairman Ghislain Auclair has set up a biotechnology laboratory to grow the plants.
He said: “The plants will be most suited to providing mood lighting but there are different possible applications.
“If the light is weak, it will be more like a decoration but if the light is strong, the plants could be used as alternative light sources for street lights.
“We don’t know exactly yet but there are lots of possibilities.
“The first prototype plants will be ready at the start of 2020 – and, after that, we are aiming to start marketing them internationally as soon as possible.”
Bioluminescence is a natural biological phenomenon found in many living organisms.
The natural biochemistry between two molecules that can be found inside the organisms allows them to produce light.
The plants will emit their own light through a protected system developed by Woodlight.
They will be able to live for as long as normal plants, and when they die they can be used as compost to grow replacement plants.
The bioluminescent technology can be applied to a wide range of plant varieties, which will be acclimatised to different environments, meaning it could be used all over the world.
The plants will be infertile and dependent on a specific growth process to avoid being dispersed into the surrounding environment.
The company has won three national competitions for its innovative work.