.....Solar roadways? Only one way to find out if they are a pipe dream

An outfit called Solar Roadways claims it is practical to replace asphalt roads with solar cells. A YouTube video crunches a few numbers to cast doubt on this claim. Count me as skeptical as well.

An outfit called Solar Roadways wants to replace asphalt roads and parking lots with solar cells and claims this idea is practical based on the tests it has run so far. The company has received some SBIR money and has given a TEDx talk on the subject which is viewable on its web site. 

But count me among those who have yet to be convinced, even after reading the FAQs the company put up meant to address critics of the idea. Unfortunately, the FAQs come off as a bit of a hand wave. Far more convincing is a YouTube video put up by a vocal critic:

Other media outlets have commented favorably on Solar Roadways' idea, but their dismissals of criticisms leveled so far don't inspire a lot of confidence among engineers who've been through a few development efforts "Ambitious, yes, but the Brusaws' small protoype — built as part of a contract with the Federal Highways Agency — is already generating electricity," breathlessly reported one source.

Of course, there is a bit of a difference between a small prototype generating electricity and a roadway able to hold up under 18-wheeler traffic for a few years. 

Only one thing is likely to begin silencing skeptics on a thing like this: A functioning section of roadway built from the stuff that still works a year of so after it goes live. 

Discuss this Blog Entry 10

on Jul 1, 2014

First Glass has been reclassified as a liquid.
asphalt is a residue from cracking crude oil and thus inexpensive in comparison.
Any vehicle attempting to break on a glass road in inclimate weather will prove to a disaster.
Project is a fools mission. Parking lot covers, replacement roofs, solar track, road side visual corridors, could be more acceptable.

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Lee Teschler

Leland serves as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design. He has 34 years of Service and holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan, a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of...
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