The Start Of The Solar Roadway ?  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Der Spiegel has an article on an idea that has been kicking around for a while now - the "solar road" - Electric Avenue: Solar Road Panels Offer Asphalt Alternative.

A lot of thought is put into how much energy we use to drive from point A to B. But what if the road itself could generate energy? Julie and Scott Brusaw, a married couple from Sandpoint, Idaho, have taken on just such a concept, which they hope will make the auto transport of the future cleaner and safer.

The idea is as simple as it is ingenious. Wherever roads are laid, solar panels could go instead. They would generate electricity, which would in turn be fed into the grid. Thus, oil is conserved twice: Electric cars could be charged with the energy produced by the panels, and the panels would replace the use of asphalt, the production of which requires petroleum. Moreover, Solar Roadways, as the Brusaws have dubbed their invention, are heated and equipped with integrated LED screens, which act not only as street markings, but can also show warnings directly on the road.

The Brusaws are aware that their vision cannot be realized in a day. They've decided to start small: with pedestrian and bicycle paths or large parking lots at supermarkets. As they see it, every square meter of asphalt that gets replaced with Solar Roadway is a small step on the path toward independence from fossil fuels. The giant leap would be to take on urban roads and highways on a global scale.

2 comments

The question I always ask about radical new paving materials is durability. How well will the material stand up under the load of 80,000 pound trucks? All you have to do is look at the condition of 10-year-old concrete on highways used by heavy vehicles; it's not unusual for an inch or more of the concrete to have been ground off after that much time. The second aspect of durability is the total thickness of the pavement. US Interstate highways typically use an 11-inch layer of steel-reinforced concrete top layer -- the thickness is required to absorb the pounding from heavy loads without deteriorating too rapidly.

Sure - I think roads used for heavy transport are a very long term target for this.

The article does note they are looking at starting with footpaths, cycle paths and parking lots first.

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