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"Solar Roadways to Prototype First Ever Solar Road Panel"

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posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 09:56 AM
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Ever drive on the highway and think about how much solar energy is wasted on the asphalt below? Apparently, so has Solar Roadways. The startup was awarded a $100,000 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) grant this week to prototype its Solar Road Panel–an energy-generating panel made from solar cells and glass that is meant to replace petroleum-based asphalt on roads and in parking lots.


This is an excellent idea. Highways and all roads in general already act as massive sinks that soak up solar radiation and contribute in a big way to the urban heat island effect. Taking this fact and these structures and designing them to actively harness hits energy is really quite a swell notion. Very permaculture - stacking functions if you ask me.




The panels, designed by Solar Roadways founder Scott Brusaw, contain embedded LED lights that might eventually act as a “smart” system, providing travel lines as well as timely warnings to drivers about roadblocks and wildlife up ahead. At the same time, embedded heating elements in the panels could prevent snow and ice from building up on the road.


Hmm, interesting a 'smart system' I wonder what all this would entail?



Once a prototype is complete, Solar Roadways still has a long ways to go before its technology is commercialized. But if and when it is, Brusaw estimates that covering the entire U.S. interstate highway system with his 12′ by 12′ panels could fulfill the country’s energy needs (based on each panel producing 7.6 kilowatt hours of power each day).


Wow. That is HUGE. Now we all know that the requirements for storage would be too huge to accomplish so this technology could only serve us during daylight hours so it is in that sense imperfect. However it would make a massive contribution to developing a clean energy base for our energy use.

All in all an excellent concept, lets see how far they get with it!




posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 10:11 AM
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each house could have its own battery units to store daily charge for night use.

like self contained solar units do now.

very clever idea.

star and a flag!



posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 11:19 AM
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Well, don't we all feel a bit silly. That is a concept not many people thought of that was STARING US IN THE FACE!!! I'd be willing that some rich dude was getting solar put up on his roof, and while one of the panels was sitting in it's freshly opened packaging on his driveway it hit him.

It's a really great idea, but the maintenance would be INSANE. Quite possibly costing more than it does now to maintain a normal road... Lets see here:
1) the usual skidmarks you see on the highway, would then be on a solar panel, which is the usual opaque-to-light black rubber. a set of 2 tire marks across a 12 by 12 panel, could effectively block out about 12 square feet (conservative estimate of 6 inch wide tire, I don't know the width of a tire, but do the math, ((width of tire x 2)x12'), cutting 1/12 of the possible energy absorption. Even larger for an 18 wheeler, especially if it's jacknifed. This would require constant monitoring and cleaning to ensure maximum effective energy levels.

2)Obviously you can't have a smooth surface, otherwise when it rains everyone would pretty much be screwed. SO, then you have to take into account making the rough surface for the tires to grab. Over time it would get worn smooth by constant usage, and would need to be replaced. You would also have to take into account dirt and debris from the environment being ground into the panels... Again, you'd have to constantly monitor the roads to ensure maximum energy levels.

3)Next you'll have to take in to account, accidents. Most shatterproof glass isn't designed with cars and trucks in mind, so if you flip a truck, you could very well end up cracking a panel, which would more than likely cause the panel itself to be damaged... that's expensive.

4) People who have leaky cars, would dirty up the panels and require cleaning all the time to take care of the loss there....

Just a few examples...

It sounds like a good idea on paper, but just think of how much your taxes would have to increase to handle the proper care of the power source.



posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 11:27 AM
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reply to post by judgiebegoode
 


You bring up some very good ideas, ideas which im sure the designers have already thought of and have found a solution to however.

For example, this glass will be build with lorries and trucks in mind.

Maybe they will start off on small roads, and have little cleaning units that go round at early hours in the morning and scrub rubber off?

Maybe it has a multilayered ability, where they account for wear and tear, then when the system goes below 40% of maximum energy possible to be gained, then they can come along and take away a layer of the glass? I dont know...maybe they will have some sort of see through sticker, like those you find on mobile phones etc when they are new?

hehe, they mite seem a little rubbsh, but im no engineer. lol



posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 11:41 AM
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Lol, I can just see it now... zambonis cruising down the highway like cleaning the ice in a hockey game... that's be pretty funny to see.

They could do multilayer, but then you'd be pretty much closing entire sections of road at regular intervals, just to replace the multiple layers after you take them off, which would REALLY aggravate the usual commuters. Especially if we're talking like, New York City, or LA.

But you pose a very good point. Say we don't do interstates, but local roads only. You'd gather enough light to power the towns, without causing too many traffic issues during road work., after all, you don't need to light most interstates.

But the cost would still be ridiculous. Most home setups aren't much bigger than 6x12 (that's over multiple panels, not individual ones) and it's going to run you around 60000 to get it up and running, not including batteries. So we'll estimate about 120000 per 12x12 panel, plus the cost of the "glass' which would be insane. So let's just estimate 200000 per panel, thats 400000 12 feet of road (2 panel width), you'd need 880 to cover a mile of road. That's 176 mil per mile... right out of your taxes. You'd hit a few billion per town! Not including maintenance, or the jobs it would create just to get the panels installed!!!



posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 11:44 AM
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True that conventional roads are a huge heat sink. However, I do not believe this idea is economical. I drive on roads that apparently deteriorate under heavy truck traffic, and become progressively worse until next repair. Repair is done using materials that gotta be cheap -- they carry them by dump truck loads. If you replace that simple process with hyper tech intelligent panel, you better have cash reserves ten times that of Saudi Arabia. Not cool.

The US thankfully has huge stretches of desert that also act as heat sinks. Deserts often have more sunny days in a given year than other areas of the country. It makes a huge amount of common sense to concentrate solar energy production there, where the land is cheap. It's been estimated that a square of 100x100 miles will produce enough energy for the entire country. It's a big chunk of land, but think of the tremendous amount of energy harvested!

It will make infrastructure 100s of times cheaper as well.

So solar roads are a fad imho.



posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 11:52 AM
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roadways are actually constructed of several layers the top-most being a 'wear' layer.

the wear layer is intended to 'wear away and be replaced periodically.

it would be fairly reasonable to assume we could develop a similar 'wear material' that was opaque.

it would not have to be glass, it could be a plethora of things.

my point is: don't get caught in the box, try to think outside of it


while thinking of this concept using strictly materials that are already common place probably wont work, but creating NEW ideas and materials will.

this is what is called 'progress'.


[edit on 28-8-2009 by Animal]



posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 01:06 PM
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Yeah, new materials would do it, but we should definitely be most concerned as to how america would front the cost for this. Given the prices of current solar technology, even a sizable reduction, we'd be talking trillions. With the current tax structure, there'd be a friggin war over the tax hike that would be necessary to get this done in a respectable timeframe. But even if we had the money to pay for all of the roads, we'd need to be able to produce them in the order of millions. That's an awful lot of materials, regardless of what new tech we use.

Oh... and I guarantee you the government wouldn't let the price of electricity drop, and you'd still get metered for your usage, probably at a higher premium due to the maintenance costs. You'd have to pay a lot closer attention to the state of every road.

[edit on 28-8-2009 by judgiebegoode]



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