Solar roadways

ideal.dreams

macrumors 68020
Jul 19, 2010
2,312
852
Ohio
I've been hearing mention of this more and more. It's a really cool idea and I hope to see it implemented in my lifetime. Cutting our reliance on gasoline and other fossil fuels is a good thing in my book.

I really like the idea of heating elements in the road to keep snow/ice off. But that made me wonder - how slippery does that glass get when it's wet? They mentioned that the panels passed all of the load tests, etc with flying colors, but it wasn't said how the traction varies under wet conditions. I'm sure it was thought of, but I didn't see mention of it anywhere.
 

turtle777

macrumors 6502a
Apr 30, 2004
682
16
Right.

So we can't build regular roads that last more than a winter, but suddenly, a solar road will last years and years, long enough to recover the investment.

Color me skeptical.

-t
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
66,387
33,000
Boston
That might work in Arizona, Texas or Florida but not in the northeast. Here in Boston we've had a bitterly cold winter, the roads are in rough shape with pot holes and frost heaves. I don't think its cost effective in that environment.
 

satcomer

macrumors 604
Feb 19, 2008
6,757
1,115
The Finger Lakes Region
That might work in Arizona, Texas or Florida but not in the northeast. Here in Boston we've had a bitterly cold winter, the roads are in rough shape with pot holes and frost heaves. I don't think its cost effective in that environment.
I was think the same thing. Plus could you imagine water pooling on this then freezing at night. Talk about black ice.
 

prostuff1

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2005
1,484
18
Don't step into the kawoosh...
For those stating that these would not work in the northern climate, especially in winter time. The panels are heated to melt the snow and ice. You would never end up with a snow or ice building up on a panel which would mean no plow trucks would be needed. Plow trucks are the number one reason roads turn to crap after winter has ended.

There is likely some temp that these would become ineffective at, but there was no mention of that.

I think driveways, sidewalks and parking lots should be the first things they shoot for installation on. Also having the ability to make the PCB any color instead of the green in the video.

I would consider doing something like this in my sidewalks and driveway when I build my next house and assuming I can get a different PCB color.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
66,387
33,000
Boston
I was think the same thing. Plus could you imagine water pooling on this then freezing at night. Talk about black ice.
Good point.

I think on paper, its not a bad idea, but the execution of such is what will be very problematic and costly.
 

carjakester

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 21, 2013
2,228
55
Midwest
For those stating that these would not work in the northern climate, especially in winter time. The panels are heated to melt the snow and ice. You would never end up with a snow or ice building up on a panel which would mean no plow trucks would be needed. Plow trucks are the number one reason roads turn to crap after winter has ended.

There is likely some temp that these would become ineffective at, but there was no mention of that.

I think driveways, sidewalks and parking lots should be the first things they shoot for installation on. Also having the ability to make the PCB any color instead of the green in the video.

I would consider doing something like this in my sidewalks and driveway when I build my next house and assuming I can get a different PCB color.
I think salt also plays a bug part in it, i know around me this winter we ran out of salt, so just for that it would be great.
 

ucfgrad93

macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
17,943
8,923
Colorado
Right.

So we can't build regular roads that last more than a winter, but suddenly, a solar road will last years and years, long enough to recover the investment.

Color me skeptical.

-t
Agreed. While a neat concept, I think we are a long way off if ever pulling that off.
 

turtle777

macrumors 6502a
Apr 30, 2004
682
16
For those stating that these would not work in the northern climate, especially in winter time. The panels are heated to melt the snow and ice. You would never end up with a snow or ice building up on a panel which would mean no plow trucks would be needed. Plow trucks are the number one reason roads turn to crap after winter has ended.
.
Do you have any idea how ridiculous this is from a total energy perspective ?

This is absolute nonsense.

-t
 

Mousse

macrumors 68020
Apr 7, 2008
2,145
3,307
Flea Bottom, King's Landing
So we can't build regular roads that last more than a winter, but suddenly, a solar road will last years and years, long enough to recover the investment.

Color me skeptical.
Yet another shade of skeptical here.

Seeing how the "Solar Road" is really a veneer on top of the existing road, it would be one more thing to break down. The existing roads would still require maintenance. I can see it working well for small area (a parking lot or driveway) but not an interstate highway.
 

puma1552

Suspended
Nov 20, 2008
5,559
1,945
Communism looks good on paper too.

This is a ridiculous idea. Those heating elements aren't going to cut it when you are getting 5" of snow per hour in a big storm…and that's just the beginning, never mind all the trash and rocks that end up on the road that will damage them, etc. etc. etc. etc.

This engineer thinks this is a completely ludicrous idea, even forgetting the virtually irrecoverable cost of solar.
 

Kissaragi

macrumors 68020
Nov 16, 2006
2,337
365
Be a good few years before this is anywhere near practical. Makes more sense to stick a field of panels in the desert or on your roof for now.
 

Mugambo

macrumors 6502
Jul 4, 2009
286
0
Solar Freaking Roadways!


It looks very rosy but will this ever become a reality (in the foreseeable future)?
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,212
14,699
I've been watching this project for two years now. All of this is entirely possible with today's technology, yet there is no will to rebuild this country, even with technology that will pay for itself many times over.
 

pdjudd

macrumors 601
Jun 19, 2007
4,037
65
Plymouth, MN
Unless the costs of deploying such systems are on par with normal traditional pavement techniques and can be tested and shown to work on a proper level comparable with what the published ideals are, nobody will bother. Our infrastructure is way behind already and that one thing is going to inhibit deployment - it’s going to cost money that cities don’t want to spend or just cannot spend in general.

If we cannot even keep up with our crumbling infrastructure due to costs, there is no way we will even consider this.
 

localoid

macrumors 68020
Feb 20, 2007
2,447
1,733
America's Third World
Can snow plows be used on these solar roadways? I get the fact that they're heated, but can they melt snow at at pace high enough to keep up with the 24"+ snows that sometimes accumulate within just a few hours in the mountains of Appalachia?

Even if the panels could keep up with big storms, there would be a problem of dealing with the runoff. You can't just dump that much water in in the nearest stream, without exposing towns downstream to potential flooding. (Currently, when the snow is plowed off the highways, it slowly melts, over a period days or even weeks.)
 

tech4all

macrumors 68040
Jun 13, 2004
3,400
489
NorCal
Do you have any idea how ridiculous this is from a total energy perspective ?

This is absolute nonsense.

-t
The heat could be powered by (hopefully small) part of the energy they produce. Not quite as ridiculous as you make it sound. ;)

Or maybe only install this in areas where there is no snow.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,212
14,699
I've been hearing mention of this more and more. It's a really cool idea and I hope to see it implemented in my lifetime. Cutting our reliance on gasoline and other fossil fuels is a good thing in my book.

I really like the idea of heating elements in the road to keep snow/ice off. But that made me wonder - how slippery does that glass get when it's wet? They mentioned that the panels passed all of the load tests, etc with flying colors, but it wasn't said how the traction varies under wet conditions. I'm sure it was thought of, but I didn't see mention of it anywhere.
The engineer has worked with major glass institutions to find the right amount of traction. In fact, they told him to dial it back because one run he did made glass that was more grippy than asphalt.

Glass is really an amazing substance.


Also, guys, anyone that is commenting on the drawbacks like winters or the amount of sunlight we get in the northeast needs to look a little further into this project. The man is an engineer, if you can think up a potential issue while reading on a forum, you can bet that these guys have been thinking about this for months. I've been watching this project closely for the last two years. All of those questions have been answered.

A quick 5 minute video for anyone interested, this is the latest update, with an introduction from Morgan Spurlock:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPKytx9dJ54
 
Last edited:

iBlazed

macrumors 68000
Feb 27, 2014
1,594
1,247
New Jersey, United States
Why doesn't everyone with a question or skepticism actually read up on the project instead of just dismissing it? Do you really think they didn't think of these things and you just did? Do you really think that highly of yourself?
 

smithrh

macrumors 68020
Feb 28, 2009
2,485
947
Also, guys, anyone that is commenting on the drawbacks like winters or the amount of sunlight we get in the northeast needs to look a little further into this project. The man is an engineer, if you can think up a potential issue while reading on a forum, you can bet that these guys have been thinking about this for months. I've been watching this project closely for the last two years. All of those questions have been answered.
I've worked with hordes of other engineers and scientists (PhD level) over my career.

If you think for one moment that just because someone is an engineer or scientist that they don't have just as much potential as "the rest of us" for logic errors, blind spots in thinking and just basically crackpot ideas, well, then you may be surprised as you go along life's journey.

I seriously doubt the right questions have even been thought of yet, much less answered.

Hey, I'm all for innovative thinking and becoming a disruptive force, but I'm not convinced this is one of those projects.
 

Thomas Veil

macrumors 68030
Feb 14, 2004
2,586
7,869
OBJECTIVE reality
The idea is certainly intriguing.

The skeptics kind of remind me of what Arthur C. Clarke called the three stages of reaction to a revolutionary idea:

  1. It's completely impossible.
  2. It's possible, but not worth doing.
  3. I always said it was a good idea.
The part I wonder about is those illuminated road lines. How can they possibly be bright enough to be seen in broad daylight? And could your car headlights "wash them out" at night?
 

smithrh

macrumors 68020
Feb 28, 2009
2,485
947
The crowd over at Reddit seem to think they're being spammed by posts (and reposts) about this company.

They're much much harder on them than we have been.

So I think what we might very well have here are a company looking for funding/grants coupled with a (poor) viral marketing campaign.
 
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