Solar Roadway: roads that produce electricity

Route 66 has long symbolized freedom. What if this infamous road also became a significant source for energy production? The Solar Roadway project, which was launched in the United States, promises to bring the tarmac era to an end. In its place comes a surface capable of producing electricity, de-icing roads in winter, and illuminating them at night, thereby removing the need for several million street lights.
According to the designers, if all of America’s roads were fitted with these panels, they would generate three times the amount of electricity that the country currently produces.The secret behind this revolution, developed in a country where the road rules, is simply a set of ultra-resistant photovoltaic panels built into the road surface. These hexagonally shaped slabs, which are made from tempered glass and contain solar and LED lights, can incorporate road markings. With the ability to transmit data in real time, they can also forewarn drivers about traffic jams or accidents, so that they adjust their speed. Another road safety feature of these slabs comes from their grooved surface, which aims to prevent cars skidding or aquaplaning when it’s raining. And lastly, they will be installed with resistors to melt sheets of ice and snow.Coming a full circleA real American adventure story, this road surface of the future first came into being about ten years ago, in a garage belonging to Scott and Julie Brusaw – a couple of engineers, originally from California. But the project has yet to take off because the devices are expensive – three times as expensive as a tarmac road. The designers argue, however, that the surface will last three times as long. In particular, the Brusaws maintain that if all the roads in America were paved with Solar Roadways, they would generate three times the amount of electricity that the country currently produces. This energy could be sold to individuals or, as a way of coming a full circle, be used to recharge electric vehicles. The product isn’t ready for use yet – on the six million kilometres of roads in the United States! But a prototype has been built to show how effective the device is. And they now have crowdfunding, so their Utopian ideal can become a reality, soon to pave the roads of the future.To go furtherSmart Highway: interactive roadsSolar Roadways website

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