1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Solar Roadways -- The Way of the Future!

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Lea`Brooks, May 24, 2014.

    My Facebook feed has been buzzing with the new Solar Roadways idea.

    For those who haven't heard about it, it's basically a couple who designed a road that runs on the Sun's energy. The panels are made from tempered glass and can withstand very heavy weights. The panels have LED lights in them, so they can create any word or form on the roads or parking lots (lines, handicap logos, basketball quart, hockey, soccer lines, etc). They can also write warnings in the road (like those fancy signs that hang above the highway). And they're pressure sensitive, so if an animal is in the road, it lights up and alerts the driver that there's something in the road. The panels are fixed with heating coils that melts ice and snow during bad weather. And they're going to be fitted with electric car outlets, so people can charge anywhere near a road or parking lot. Eventually, they suspect that electric cars will be able to charge themselves simply by driving on these panels. But the coolest thing is that they are (obviously) solar panels. And it's said that if every concrete surface in the US is covered by these panels, it can generate 3 times the amount of electricity that the country even USES. They suspect people will even be getting money back on their electric bill, instead of having to pay.

    Think of the benefits of this! Lighted roadways -- no more not being able to see the lines at night or in the rain -- no hitting an animal because you didn't see it in the road. Programmable roadways -- no more crews having to go out to repaint the roads -- no more having to completely redo a parking lot to change the parking place layout. Electric -- no more pot holes -- no more ice or snow -- no more salt damaging our vehicles. SOLAR FREAKING PANELS.

    They started a campaign on April 22. They need to gather one million dollars to begin production. They're up to $850,000 in a month. There's only 7 days left to donate. So pull out your pocketbooks, people, and start funding this!!!


    Can I post the link? I'm gunna try. :) http://www.solarroadways.com/intro.shtml
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I saw that through Facebook as well, from a number of directions. Though it seems like such a no-brainer, my pessimistic side says that I saw electric cars come and then silently get snatched off the roads and made to vanish when I was young. We are only now just starting to see them again. The promise of that technology could have been fulfilled long ago, but it wasn't, and not for lack of technical knowhow, but because it threatened to destabilize whole economic infrastructures based on petroleum. Again, it's a no-brainer. Why would we not do this? Greed. :(
     
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  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It sounds like a great idea, and I do hope we see it someday. But for right now, I don't think it's really worth it in terms of money. My dad works in the alternative energy sector, and the one thing he always says is that everything is driven by money. You have to consider the amount spent on research and development, replacing old roads, and maintenance. Cost is actually one of the main reasons why most people don't install solar panels everywhere.

    Plus, solar panels are really inefficient. My parents' house has solar panels, and the efficiency is around 15%. They were also very expensive. The only reason my parents got them was because my dad is really big on alternative energy (there are some state incentives as well). So until the cost comes down and efficiency goes up, I don't think this is a feasible idea right now, though I'm sure it will be in the future.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm curious about wear and repair.
     
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  5. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    They've already finished the research and prototype phase. Now they're moving on to production. And as I stated above, they need one million to start production, and they're 85% there, all from donations. They wouldn't need to replace old roads either. The panels just lay on top of existing roads, so the stability is already there. And solar panels may be inefficient on a house. But again, as said above, if every surface was covered, it would produce 3x the amount of electricity that our country uses in a year.
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know from the article I read that they'll have little tunnel like things that run alongside of the panels, so that the wiring can be accessed easily. And I'm pretty sure that the panels are just... screwed into the ground. So I'm going to assume that if a panel gets damaged or worn, all they'd have to do is unscrew that one panel, instead of having to tear up the entire road.

    It does make me curious though. If they ARE building it on top of existing roadways, if there's a pothole or some other damage to the road, is that going to make the paneling unlevel?

    Either way. :) I still think it's awesome. It may be expensive out of the gate, but it'll save a lot of money in the long run.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    How much square feet of road does that million dollars of panels cover?

    They're inefficient everywhere. The efficiency even goes down with time, so 15% now could mean 10% in 5 years.
     
  8. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Driving on glass. Sounds great on a rainy day.
     
  9. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    :p They covered that on the link I provided. It's not smooth glass like a window pane. It's textured, almost like a roadway. They don't want to call it glass, but they have to, since it's glass... lol But they've tested and tested and said that driving or walking on their panels is the same as driving or walking on concrete.
     
  10. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    And the expansion coefficient of the tempered glass is the same as the concrete or asphalt they will be attaching this to?
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Solar panels are inefficient, which is why large-scale solar power plants don't use them. Instead, they use mirrors to reflect sunlight onto tanks containing salts, which melt under the concentrated heat. The molten salts heat water to make steam, which turns turbines and generates electricity. The nice thing about using the salts is that they melt at such a high temperature that they still hold enough heat to boil the water all night, while the sun is down. A group from Germany has managed to build a solar plant using this technology that keeps producing power through the whole 24-hour cycle. Now that's cool! I keep wondering why, here in the desert southwest of the USA, we don't have about a hundred of these plants. (Okay, I know about the limitations of our existing power grid and the costs associated with upgrading it to send large amounts of power everywhere, so let's not get into that. There's a ton of money that needs to be spent, and no real political will to spend it. But the technology exists.)

    Solar roadways are a good idea, especially around here, where the weather's nice about 320 days per year. But I don't see it paying off any time soon in areas of the world that don't have this kind of climate. I'd have to look into it further, but it might have a fairly limited application.
     
  12. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    SOLAR. FREAKING. ROADWAYS. Are coming to Missouri. Oh yeah.
     
  13. Necronox
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    Necronox Active Member

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    Solar Roadways would be extremely costly to build, plus I reckon they would have high maintenance cost, and these two would either dissuade anyone from building them until technology makes it feasible, or it would negate the many bonuses it provides. Either way, I do not see it becoming anything else than a fantasy, at least for the time being.

    That said, Solar panels are inefficient, however, they don't require much maintenance. You build them once and that's more or less it really. And I see plenty of potential energy from places like the Sahara, Mohave Desert, or the Australia desert/semi-desert. Honestly, other than money, I do not really see a decent reason why we could not but solar-panel farms out in the middle of nowhere. In other words, i'd rather have free or cheap energy then powered-roads.... anyway. just my thoughts...

    Also, I have heard technology of harnessing tides(or strong currents) as a method of turning a turbine. This could provide substential energy, for low price and it would be renewable. It would sadly however be, in most cases, detrimental to the under-water enviornment
     
  14. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just FYI, it's "Wave of the future." It's a reference to how ocean waves bring things to shore.
     
  15. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How did this thread get resurrected? o_O
     
  16. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cause Missouri is building a parking lot using the Solar Roadway panels. o_O

    Did no one click my link? lol
     
  17. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh! Sorry, I missed it. I thought we're having a zombie thread resurrection party all of a sudden. :D

    Anyway, it's a good thing they're doing a small scale test first. I saw this video about the concept a few months back (it's a year old vid, though), and at that point of development this seemed like a rather impractical solution.

     
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