Can A Solar Road Solve Hazardous Winter Driving Conditions?

Winter, why aren’t you over yet? For drivers, winter is the slowest season of them all. As soon as the snow starts to fall from the sky, you can count on traffic jams until April. We’re late for work, our knuckles turn white from grabbing the steering wheel too tight and people forget that snow tends to make the roads slippery. Is there no hope for our winter roads?

It looks like our prayers have been answered by a U.S. engineer. Scott Brusaw, a 53-year-old electrical engineer from Idaho, is causing a stir with his idea for a solar-powered roadway, and already the U.S. government and General Electric are very interested in the project.

So here’s how the idea works: A sturdy glass material that would house solar cells would replace the existing petroleum-based asphalt. The new road would both heat up the surface (melting the snow) and provide electricity to power electric vehicles and signs on the road (and maybe even homes in the future).

Unfortunately, it’s going to cost some big bucks to put in place. Brusaw estimates the costs at $4.4 million (U.S.) for just one mile of solar-powered road. But, he also thinks that the cost would be made up by the clean energy it would generate.

“Our ultimate goal is to be able to store excess energy in or alongside the Solar Roadways,” the project’s website says. “This renewable energy replaces the need for the current fossil fuels used for the generation of electricity. This, in turn, cuts greenhouse gases literally in half.”

And you won’t have to worry about the glass used in the new roads, as Brusaw says “glass, especially when fused together in layers, is stronger than most people think.” Joining the project are top glass researchers at University of Dayton and Penn State, who are developing material strong enough to support vehicles and provide traction.

Watch the video after the jump learn more about this solar-powered road.

[Source: The Toronto Star]