Scientists at the University of Rhode Island (URI) are developing ways to convert the solar heat generated by asphalt roadways into usable energy.
The researchers say asphalt can reach temperatures of 140 degrees ormore in the summer. The URI team has designed four different methods to use this abundant resource.
1. Wrap photovoltaic cells around the barriers separating highways – The team says this can easily be done by employing thin-film solarcells. The energy generated from the solar panels could powerstreetlights and illuminate signs.
2. Place water filled pipes beneath the asphalt -The researchers say the hot asphalt will naturally heat the water, which could then be used in a varieity of ways including, powering a turbine, deicing roadways, or providing a source of heat for nearby buildings.
3. Producing electricity by linking hot and cold spots in an electric circuit – The researchers explain this is a futuristic idea, as the technologyfor it does not exist. But, they believe with enough research it canbecome practical.
4. Solar roadways – The most complex idea URI is exploring involves replacing asphalt alltogether. Roadways would then be made up electronic blocks containingsolar panels.
Read the full story at ScienceDaily: Researchers aim to harvest solar energy from pavement to melt ice, power streetlights
Image credit: Luis Argerich via Flickr