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Daily Strange: Solar panels the new concrete?

Photo Credit: solarroadways.com

Written by John Preer, Editor-in-Chief 

Could Solar panels replace concrete pavement?

Scott and Julie Brusaw seem to believe so.  The couple’s company, Solar Roadways, is based in Idaho has spent nearly a decade developing and testing their solar powered road panels.  Although, these panels could potentially serve multiple purposes, there are still many critics that doubt the panel’s ability to endure the stress that asphalt and concrete can.  The critics’ concern isn’t so much if the technology is possible; rather their concerns lie with the safety and realistic probability of these panels blanketing the country’s roadways.

“I’d say it’s not very realistic to cover the entire highway system with these panels,” said Eric Weaver from the Department of Transportation.  Weaver countered that realistic skepticism by saying “If you don’t reach for something, you’ll never get there. Just the effort of doing something new creates byproducts.”

In 2009 the couple received a grant from the Department of Transportation to further their research and testing.

The Brusaws have made many claims as to the potential uses of their panels and not all of them are unfounded.  The panels have been tested in various small-scale situations like parking lots and bike paths.  These tests were done to monitor how the panels performed under intense temperature conditions as well as determine how well vehicles would perform during rainy weather.

The panels are fixed with LED lights that would illuminate them in the dark, making for safer driving conditions. In addition the LED lights could also be used to direct traffic and make crossing the street safer for pedestrians.  The panels also contain thermo conductors that would heat up roads when there is ice or snow.  Not only would these panels serve all of these purposes, they are solar powered so the energy needed to power them would come from a clean renewable source.

The possibilities for this invention seem endless, but there is still a lot of research and testing that needs to be done before any large-scale projects can be started.

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