Solar Roadways to replace Highways with Electric Glass
Idaho-based Solar Roadways wants to replace petroleum-based asphalt on highways and byways throughout the US with solar-powered panels that lights up and melts snow by harnessing the power of the sun. The idea blossomed into a project, when the company was awarded $100,000 funding from the Department of Transportation.
From computer rendering to award-winning prototype, Solar Roadways founder Scott Brusaw, an electrical engineer and his counsellor wife, Julie Brusaw has came a long way since they came up with the idea 8 years ago. It is a simple concept of harnessing the solar power during the day, and at night the LEDs could paint the road with markings and warnings, replacing street lamps. With the funding, the couple expanded the concept into a working prototype which is an operational 12 x 12 ft (3.7 x 3.7 m) parking lot setup. It is made up of 16 smaller connecting panels, embedded with LEDs which could be programmed to deliver custom messages. The prototype which is located next to their Idaho workshop, has reportedly stayed free of snow and ice all winter long.
Each of the panel features PV cells and circuit boards, with 128 programmable LEDs, and heating element to help melt snow and ice during winter. The panel is topped with a super strength textured glass. Brusaw says, “the viability of the project lies in finding a glass surface for the panels that has the same traction qualities as asphalt, can withstand a fully-laden semi trailer braking hard at 80mph, can withstand the heat and cold, reduce glare while absorbing the sun’s rays and house the LEDs that make road signage so much more efficient.” With the assistance of scientists at Penn State University’s Materials Research Institute, the material has exceeded expectations in load, traction and impact resistance testing.
Broken panels can be replaced individually without the need to repave an entire section of the road. He also believes the glass solar panels has an expected lifespan of 21 years, three times more than asphalt. “One 4-lane wide stretch of Solar Highway would theoretically produce at least 13,376kWh electricity a day, with a whopping 4,882,240kWh electricity a year which is enough energy to power 500 homes. There would be no need for power plants, power lines or transformer as the energy would flow where it is needed.
With the first parking lot prototype already installed, Solar Roadways is looking to raise a lofty $1 million through Indiegogo to help raise enough money to hire a team of engineers and professionals to start production. The project will receive all funding even if the campaign target is not met. Enjoy the campaign video below.