Washington, Feb 03 (ANI): An expert has come up with a novel idea for dealing with snowy roads: replacing them with a glass surface embedded with solar cells that generate power form the sun and store it in batteries for use at night.
Scott Brusaw's company, Solar Roadways is waiting for approval on a new 750,000 dollars grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that will help him build a large-scale prototype to test new materials and electronics, and hopefully prove that his invention works.
"Think of the rear window of your car," he said.
"There would be a heating element [in each cell] similar to that. In the morning, when you go start your car, it pumps out about 15 amps and cranks it up to about 85 degrees to melt whatever snow and ice has accumulated overnight. If you kept the temperature at about 40 degrees you wouldn't have to do that because it would not accumulate."
Regarding the glass material used for the roads, Brusaw said, there are glass research projects where the material is strong enough to stop a bullet or can even be used as a shield against roadside bombs, so his surface could easily withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler. A textured surface would provide traction on par with blacktop.
"The thicker you make it, the more you laminate it, the stronger it gets," he said.
"The cells will be inside the glass. In our prototype we have the LEDs laying under the glass. We learned we could laminate the LEDs between two pieces. [This makes] the cells more visible to sunlight."
Brusaw said keeping the roads clean enough for the solar cells to operate would not be a problem. He suggests using a chemical spray, such as titanium dioxide, which would prevent dirt accumulation and even turn oil deposits into a sandy mix.
"Worst case, we can use squeegee trucks to replace snow plows," he said. (ANI)