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Old September 17th, 2011, 05:31 AM   #1
diablo234
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Solar Roadways: The Prototype

The Solar Roadways Project is experimenting a way to replace aspalt with strengthened glass encased with LED lights. This could also make snowplowing obsolete as the roadway itself will be heated, and could even be connected to the electrical/communication grid.

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Snow-melting road technology in the works
By: Liane Yvkoff February 1, 2011 11:05 AM PST
http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20030231-48.html



With a multiday, multiregion storm impacting 100 million people over the next couple of days, solar roads that melt snow and ice seem less like a far-fetched pipe dream and more like an obvious investment. Engineers on opposite sides of the country are working to make that happen.

Solar Roadways in Boise, Idaho, received a contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build a solar road panel prototype, which was completed early last year. The 12x12-square-foot road designed by engineer and CEO Scott Brusaw is made out of panels encased in strong and durable glass with the traction of asphalt and that won't cause glare.

Each encased panel generates 7.6 kilowatt hours of electricity per day, and can be connected to smart grids to power homes and business. Wireless LED lights embedded in the glass create road signs and weight-sensitive crosswalks. They also contain heating elements that can melt snow and ice.

The technology to make snow plowing obsolete is similar to what's already used in automobile windshields. Heating elements in the glass melt existing snow or ice and prevent accumulation from developing. By preventing snow-related auto accidents and improving road access for emergency responders, the technology would save a lot of lives.

It could also save cities a lot of money.

As a rule of thumb, snow removal costs about $1 million per inch in New York City each season, and back-to-back snow storms have emptied the city's $38 million snow removal budget. But offsetting the cost of building solar roads by trading in snow plows is a drop in the bucket. It would take more than 10 billion solar panels to cover the more than 3 million miles of roadway and 25,000 square miles of driveways and parking lots in the U.S. At $6,900 a panel, wholesale replacing of old asphalt with new solar road panels is a nonstarter.

And then there's the question of efficacy. Will solar-powered heating elements be able to work through a long winter night? Or what about the ability to work during extended periods of thick cloud cover during storms?

With the prototype completed, Brusaw is working to test his technology in a parking lot or stretch of road in Idaho. But in the future, the former military engineer envisions the world's entire highway infrastructure being made of solar roadways. Roads at night will be powered by energy generated by roads on the other side of the globe where the sun is still shining.

Until then, a cheaper snow-melting road model is also being developed by Rajib Mallick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His model heats roads without using photovoltaic panels or cells. Mallick and his colleagues are designing a system of heat-absorbing roadways with embedded pipes filled with freeze-resistant fluid. The fluid is heated in warm weather and stored in insulated chambers. The fluid is sent through the roadway pipes during cold weather. Mallick estimates that it will cost $12,500 for every 164 feet of pipe and should be able to make up for its costs after six months.

Both methods will come much too late to help deal with the current storm blanketing half the U.S. Until these concepts become reality, most drivers will have to rely on the old-fashioned technology of snow plows, shovels, and elbow grease
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Old September 17th, 2011, 06:23 AM   #2
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I remember seeing this on the Discovery Channel. It's a neat concept. Isn't there a test section already built somewhere?
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Old September 17th, 2011, 06:33 AM   #3
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Roads at night will be powered by energy generated by roads on the other side of the globe where the sun is still shining.


I must be a bit behind in technology, how do they plan to do that?
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Old September 17th, 2011, 06:40 AM   #4
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Roads at night will be powered by energy generated by roads on the other side of the globe where the sun is still shining.


I must be a bit behind in technology, how do they plan to do that?
Apparantly the roads will also carry electrical and fiber optic cable underneath so they can tramsit electricity from one place to another in addition to collecting solar energy.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 09:20 AM   #5
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Apparantly the roads will also carry electrical and fiber optic cable underneath so they can tramsit electricity from one place to another in addition to collecting solar energy.
Over 10,000+km?
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Old September 17th, 2011, 11:13 AM   #6
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Over 10,000+km?
Yup, provided they use the same roadway surface and that they are connected of course.

Here is a quote from their website about the new layers of the new roadway surface.

Quote:
Each individual panel consists of three basic layers:

Road Surface Layer - translucent and high-strength, it is rough enough to provide great traction, yet still passes sunlight through to the solar collector cells embedded within, along with LEDs and a heating element. It is capable of handling today's heaviest loads under the worst of conditions. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer beneath it.

Electronics Layer Contains a microprocessor board with support circuitry for sensing loads on the surface and controlling a heating element. No more snow/ice removal and no more school/business closings due to inclement weather. The on-board microprocessor controls lighting, communications, monitoring, etc. With a communications device every 12 feet, the Solar Roadway is an intelligent highway system.

Base Plate LayerLayer - While the electronics layer collects energy from the sun, it is the base plate layer that distributes power (collected from the electronics layer) and data signals (phone, TV, internet, etc.) "downline" to all homes and businesses connected to the Solar Roadway. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer above it.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 11:16 AM   #7
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I remember seeing this on the Discovery Channel. It's a neat concept. Isn't there a test section already built somewhere?
According to their website it mentioned that they were awarded a "Phase II" contract from the Federal Highway Administration, but there was no mention of a test section anywhere yet.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 09:57 PM   #8
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Yup, provided they use the same roadway surface and that they are connected of course.
With what? Superconductors?
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Old September 18th, 2011, 12:51 AM   #9
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With what? Superconductors?
Read my earlier posts.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 02:28 AM   #10
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Yup, provided they use the same roadway surface and that they are connected of course.
Your first problem is, the other side of the world is normally not connected by road.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 07:41 AM   #11
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Well... First of all, when the snow is falling, there is no solar energy available at all due to the clouds.

Then, melting the snow is energy-consuming. According to the experiences in Finland, the minimum power needed is 300 watts per square metre. The power needed to melt one kilometre of a carriageway of 7.5 metres in width is 2.25 megawatts. Thus, a 1000 MW nuclear power station can melt 444 kilometres of road. How many kilometres of streets are there in New York?

Then, the solar power available per sqm is rather limited. The mean insolation (solar energy on the earth surface) in New York is about 200 W/sqm across the whole year. In winter, the figure is much lower (and that is why the winter occurs).
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Old September 18th, 2011, 08:03 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by mrfusion View Post
Your first problem is, the other side of the world is normally not connected by road.
True however in North America alone the road network from the furthest westernmost point in Homer, Alaska to the eastern most point in Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia goes through six different time zones. Which essentially means that the time in which there is no sunlight would only be about a few hours to say the least.



Likewise if there was a paved roadway connection from Europe to say East Asia then it could actually achieve this same function.

Last edited by diablo234; September 18th, 2011 at 08:10 AM.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 08:15 AM   #13
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Well... First of all, when the snow is falling, there is no solar energy available at all due to the clouds.

Then, melting the snow is energy-consuming. According to the experiences in Finland, the minimum power needed is 300 watts per square metre. The power needed to melt one kilometre of a carriageway of 7.5 metres in width is 2.25 megawatts. Thus, a 1000 MW nuclear power station can melt 444 kilometres of road. How many kilometres of streets are there in New York?

Then, the solar power available per sqm is rather limited. The mean insolation (solar energy on the earth surface) in New York is about 200 W/sqm across the whole year. In winter, the figure is much lower (and that is why the winter occurs).
Again this depends on wether they are connected or not. If it is bright and sunny in Cincinnati, while it is snowing in Cleveland for example then the solar power being collected in Cincinnati can be transmited over to Cleveland in order to heat the roadways and in theory melt the snow. Pavement in general tends to absorb and reflect heat anyways regardless, this will only enable it to become more efficient in transforming that heat energy into solar energy.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 08:47 AM   #14
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It sounds to me like there's too many variables in the equation to make this work for several years. I think we should stick with realistic goals, such as the opportunity for permeable streets.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 11:29 AM   #15
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Read my earlier posts.
I did and I don't see presented any viable way to transport pretty big amounts of electrical energy over half the globe. If you meant copper electrical wires, then I can tell you, that this won't work.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 12:37 PM   #16
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True however in North America alone the road network from the furthest westernmost point in Homer, Alaska to the eastern most point in Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia goes through six different time zones. Which essentially means that the time in which there is no sunlight would only be about a few hours to say the least.
Oh, you American actually think the other side of the world means(or imply) the other side of America.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 01:13 PM   #17
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Oh, you American actually think the other side of the world means(or imply) the other side of America.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 08:50 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by diablo234 View Post
Again this depends on wether they are connected or not. If it is bright and sunny in Cincinnati, while it is snowing in Cleveland for example then the solar power being collected in Cincinnati can be transmited over to Cleveland in order to heat the roadways and in theory melt the snow. Pavement in general tends to absorb and reflect heat anyways regardless, this will only enable it to become more efficient in transforming that heat energy into solar energy.
No, it is not a question about whether it is cloudy or not, or wheter it is night or day. It is question about whether it is winter or not.

During the winter time, there simply is not solar energy enough to melt the snow 'in the real time':

The maximum solar radiation at the top of the atmoshphere is about 1366 W/sqm. The atmosphere absorbs about 30-40% of the radiation on a bright day. Thus, about 1000 W/sqm is the maximum energy to reach the earth surface. That is achievable if the elevation of the Sun is 90 degrees, thus somewhere between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of capricorn. The real energy received depends on the elevation of the Sun. At the winter solstice, the maximum elevation in New York is about 27 degrees at noon.

The daily average solar radiation on the earth surface at the latitude of New York during the winter months is about 120 W/sqm during bright days, thus far from being useful in this context.

Last edited by MattiG; September 18th, 2011 at 09:05 PM.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 12:17 AM   #19
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No, it is not a question about whether it is cloudy or not, or wheter it is night or day. It is question about whether it is winter or not.

During the winter time, there simply is not solar energy enough to melt the snow 'in the real time':

The maximum solar radiation at the top of the atmoshphere is about 1366 W/sqm. The atmosphere absorbs about 30-40% of the radiation on a bright day. Thus, about 1000 W/sqm is the maximum energy to reach the earth surface. That is achievable if the elevation of the Sun is 90 degrees, thus somewhere between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of capricorn. The real energy received depends on the elevation of the Sun. At the winter solstice, the maximum elevation in New York is about 27 degrees at noon.

The daily average solar radiation on the earth surface at the latitude of New York during the winter months is about 120 W/sqm during bright days, thus far from being useful in this context.
While you do present some valid points, honestly it does not matter if the solar panels in themselves even collect enough energy to perform all those functions in themselves. As the guy in the video mentioned the main reason why they are looking into Solar Roadways is because of rising petroleum costs (which is the main ingrediant of asphalt). All of the other functions such as the LED lights, solar panels, etc are essentially just icing on the cake.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 01:58 AM   #20
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I did and I don't see presented any viable way to transport pretty big amounts of electrical energy over half the globe. If you meant copper electrical wires, then I can tell you, that this won't work.
It doesn't talk about how the electricity would be transmitted long distances, but I presume it would not be via the roads themselves. The solar roads would feed their power into the general grid and then it could be transmitted by high voltage direct current (HVDC) over long distances.

HVDC connections are already being built to send electricity up to 2500 km (one under construction between Porto Velho and Sao Paulo in Brazil to send electricity from new dams in Amazonia to the more populated south east of the country) and even larger systems have been proposed eg to connect the planned Grand Inga dam in the Congo with South Africa, other parts of Africa and even the Middle East and Europe. Whether it would really be practical I don't know, but it suggests it is a serious idea.
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