Toledo Talk

Streets, parking lots, and sidewalks all making solar energy?!

Imagine if our streets, parking lots, and sidewalks all created solar energy?

There is technology in development right now to do so, check this out and please help raise awareness to help get it funded: - solar power streets, sidewalks, and parking lots.

I think this is a unique and interesting way to turn our endless urban blacktop into something doubly useful.

created by OhioKimono on May 15, 2014 at 08:35:58 am     Comments: 14

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Saw that on, nice idea, how does it work at night would be my only question.

posted by MIJeff on May 15, 2014 at 09:23:56 am     #   1 person liked this

Wonder how it would hold up against the salt and brine we dump every winter.

posted by historymike on May 15, 2014 at 01:48:44 pm     #  

historymike posted at 01:48:44 PM on May 15, 2014:

Wonder how it would hold up against the salt and brine we dump every winter.

I thought the exact same thing last night when I saw this posted on a blog.

posted by clt212 on May 15, 2014 at 01:58:19 pm     #  

"Our glass surface has been tested for traction, load testing, and impact resistance testing in civil engineering laboratories around the country, and exceeded all requirements."

They don't talk about our sort of environment. All the same, warmer places would benefit far more. Imagine places like LA, Atlanta, and more converting their highways and streets to something like this? All that dead asphalt space a new power grid.

posted by OhioKimono on May 15, 2014 at 02:13:48 pm     #  

They have tested in them in snow and ice...and apparently melt snow and ice...

"They have many other features as well, including: heating elements to stay snow/ice free, LEDs to make road lines and signage, and attached Cable Corridor to store and treat stormwater and provide a "home" for power and data cables."

posted by OhioKimono on May 15, 2014 at 02:18:39 pm     #  

The details faq:

posted by OhioKimono on May 15, 2014 at 02:19:08 pm     #  

"In the winter, will the solar cells be able to power the heating elements in the panels?

We designed our panels so the heaters are driven by the grid and not by the solar cells - the systems are independent of one another. This is because the heaters and LEDs have to work at night, when the solar cells are incapable of producing power.

Currently, the full size hexagons are 36-watt solar panels, with 69-percent surface coverage by solar cells. This will become 52-watts when we cover the whole surface when we go into production. When we add piezoelectric, they'll be capable of producing even more power. Also, as the efficiency of solar cells increase, more power will be converted.

We tested the heaters over the winter with a DC power supply that provided them with 72-watts. This was an overkill and made the surface warm to the touch on most winter days. We still need to experiment with different voltages at different temperatures, to determine the minimum amount of power required to keep the surface above freezing. Remember, they don't have to heat up to 85 degrees like the defroster wire in the windows of your car: they only have to keep the surface warm enough to prevent snow/ice accumulation (35 degrees?).

The heaters will use more power than the panels can make at night or on overcast days, but keep in mind that the heaters will only be on when they are needed. It can be five below zero, but unless there is precipitation or snow drifts, there's no need to activate the heaters.

The amount of power a panel produces depends on the amount of sunlight. The amount of power required by the heaters depends on the temperature and the precipitation. Those who live in the northern climates will have to determine if the added safety and the elimination of snow plows, shoveling and road chemicals are worth the investment.

There will be some northern latitude after which it may not be worth it. On the other hand, it's hard to put a monetary value on all of the ways winter could be made more pleasant with heated roads! Each community, business owner and homeowner can make that decision for themselves. Once we are manufacturing, we envision a team of employees whose job it will be to evaluate sites for prospective customers and provide data to enable them to make the decision that is right for them.

Those in warm climates won't need the heating feature."

posted by OhioKimono on May 15, 2014 at 02:20:49 pm     #  

"How will you replace damaged panels in a highway?

Since our system is modular, repair will be much quicker and easier than our current maintenance system for asphalt roads. We've learned that in the U.S., over $160 billion is lost each year in lost productivity from people sitting in traffic due to road maintenance.

Each of the panels contain their own microprocessor, which communicates wireless with surrounding panels. If one of them should become damaged and stop communicating, then the rest of the panels can report the problem. For instance, "I-95 mile marker 114.3 northbound lane, third panel in, panel number A013C419 not responding".

Each panel assembly weighs 110-pounds. A single operator could load a good panel into his/her truck and respond to the scene. The panel could be swapped out and reprogrammed in a few minutes. The damaged panel would then be returned to a repair center. Think of how this compares to pot hole repair!"

posted by OhioKimono on May 15, 2014 at 02:21:15 pm     #  

"What are you going to do about traction? What's going to happen to the surface of the Solar Roadways when it rains>

Everyone naturally pictures sliding out of control on a smooth piece of wet glass! Actually, one of our many technical specs is that it be textured to the point that it provides at least the traction that current asphalt roads offer - even in the rain. We hesitate to even call it glass, as it is far from a traditional window pane, but glass is what it is, so glass is what we must call it.

We sent samples of textured glass to a university civil engineering lab for traction testing. We started off being able to stop a car going 40 mph on a wet surface in the required distance. We designed a more and more aggressive surface pattern until we got a call form the lab one day: we'd torn the boot off of the British Pendulum Testing apparatus! We backed off a little and ended up with a texture that can stop a vehicle going 80 mph in the required distance."

posted by OhioKimono on May 15, 2014 at 02:23:50 pm     #  

Interesting idea. I wonder what the cost is compared to the usual paving costs?

posted by JeepMaker on May 19, 2014 at 06:59:55 am     #  

No clue, but the maintenance cost will be far lower and faster. Not to mention, unlike roads it gives back in power which pays for itself.

posted by OhioKimono on May 19, 2014 at 08:05:02 am     #  

I don't know if the power produced will offset the cost of power used from the grid for the led and heating elements. Did they ever give a cost per panel? Depending on how long a panels life is, it still might not be economically viable to replace our roads with these. Not to mention its not just tearing up 2 inches of asphalt and laying these down its also the trenching, trench lining, wiring infrastructure and whatever else needed to support a couple hundred thousand of these panels laid end to end down a road.
I would of liked to seen some sort of energy storage built into the panels that powers the heating and led elements, not sure you could ever do that for the heating, but the led could be self powered somehow if there was maybe some sort of capacitors that could store energy for the night use of led
What I would really like to see would be a technology that was spray on, I have seen some reports of them working on flexible and emulsions that might be applied to a road surface that might produce electricity, if that was cheap enough maybe something lie that could "printed" onto road surfaces.

posted by MIJeff on May 19, 2014 at 09:44:21 am     #  

I think this is quite an interesting solution and it would be wonderful if it worked as "advertised" and came to fruition.

It is most unfortunate, however, that it's likely to be undermined by the political climate we have. Likely the road salt manufacturers, asphalt manufacturers, snow plow makers, and road paint producers, their respective unions, et al. will attempt to question the safety of this product, buy countless dinners for their elected officials, and require endless studies, votes, and reviews and delay this into oblivion in order to use artificial methods of protecting their obsolete I being too cynical or a realist...sometimes it's hard to tell.

posted by breeman on May 20, 2014 at 01:17:20 pm     #  

Sadly, you are a REALIST! However if you think it's bad now, just think what it will be like when the government can no longer borrow $ and stuck with Trillion $ interest only payments.

posted by GTVT on May 20, 2014 at 03:26:26 pm     #