Could the roadways of the future be right around the corner?
By Gabrielle Mays
There is a new idea making the rounds on social media.They're called Solar Roadways. Scott and Julie Brusaw invented the futuristic roads.Scott Brusaw's goal is to have electric cars driving on solar panels."This means when your electric vehicle passes over these plates, it recharges your battery," said Scott Brusaw.The roadway has LED lights which can create its own road lines or graphics.Brusaw is starting out small. He's already developed a small scale solar parking lot."What we've got basically is a 3,600 watt solar ray parking lot and what that does is it creates DC energy," Brusaw said.That energy is converted and goes right into a circuit breaker.John Katers is a professor and chair of Natural and Applied Sciences at University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.Katers says the solar roads are possible but a lot more research needs to be done."There's other issues in terms of freeze thaw, some of the stuff that we have with climate here [like] expansion. We're pretty tough on our infrastructure," said Katers.Brusaw says the panels are heated."Basically it's an electric blanket over the road that keeps the road warm or at least above freezing so you're not going to have the freeze thaw cycles," Brusaw said.Katers says despite our long winters, there's still enough sunlight to power the roads.Brusaw says solar roadways won't happen overnight but he's still hopeful. According to the Federal Highway Administration about 4 million miles of roads in the United States.About 2.65 million miles of those roads are paved. So how much would it cost to turn our paved roads solar?"We haven't really seen any of those figures yet. We can't," Brusaw said."It all sounds great but every aspect of that is going to have a cost to it and ultimately, at the end of the day, we need to do something that's still going to be cost effective," Katers said.Brusaw says construction will begin on a solar parking lot next summer in Iowa.Brusaw's company has already raised $1.6 million.That money will be used to hire structural engineers to perfect the solar roads.
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