If you live in a region of the U.S. where it snows a lot during the winter you are no doubt asking, “If they can put a man on the moon, isn’t there a way we can avoid snowy streets during major snow storms.” There might be an answer to that question -- solar powered roads.
Scott Brusaw, an electrical engineer who lives in Sagle, Idaho, has come up with the idea and has even talked to General Electric and the federal government about it. The concept works like this: Solar cells would be embedded inside a glass surface covering a road and there would be heating elements embedded in the road. The energy caught by the solar cells would heat the embedded elements and thus melt the snow. It’s as simple as that. No more of those large, cumbersome snow plows slowing traffic as they push the snow to the side of the road. Moreover, the energy generated from the roads can recharge electric vehicles and it can also be used to power lights and LED warning signs along the road.
The Federal Highway Administration has invested $100,000 in Brusaw’s plan. It is not the only so-called “smart highway” project being researched. Virginia Tech is experimenting with piezoelectric generators in roads to convert the weight of trucks traveling on pavement into energy that power stop lights. In addition, the University of Nebraska in Lincoln is researching the use of hybrid solar and wind based generators positioned next to the roadway to power highway infrastructure as well as nearby communities.
Pretty cool! Now here’s hoping that the feds and state and local governments can find the cash to take the technologies out of the laboratory and out onto the road.