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Converting the Country's Highway System into a Solar System

June 4, 2014

With the passing of the Memorial Day holiday, summer travel is officially begun.  Many Americans will be hitting the highways as they’ve done for generations since the creation of the United States highway system.  One interesting present day invention geared toward operation on our highway system may have future benefits for all Americans. 

As America continues to struggle with the need to find a solution for ever-increasing power needs, the solution could be as simple as the highways that traverse our great nation. With almost 18,000 square miles of highways combined with the technology already in place to construct solar cells into those thousands of miles of pavement and the answer to solving America's energy problem appears relatively simple.

The Solar Roadways project is calling for the country to be re-paved with solar roads comprised of a special type of durable glass that is capable of charging electric vehicles, generating power, and melting snow and ice. Although the concept might sound like something from a sci-fi novel, significant work has already been made toward bringing the concept to life.

The new roadways would be composed of interlocking hexagonal segments covered with textured glass capable of withstanding a quarter of a million pounds. A solar panel, heating element, and series of LED lights would be located under the glass segments. Along with the capability of preventing the buildup of ice and snow, the technologically advanced roadways would also offer the ability to provide continually updated warning lights that are capable of adapting to changing traffic conditions. Grooves would need to be positioned alongside the roadways for the placement of cables that would operate the system and connect the solar panels in the roadways to a high-speed data network.

Although the concept certainly might sound somewhat futuristic, it might be closer than you think. Scott and Julie Brusaw, the force behind Solar Roadways, has been working on the concept for a decade and is now requesting $1 million to hire the engineers and scientists needed to make the transition from concept to working project. The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has already provided two phases of funding to the Brusaws.

Is it really plausible? Based on tests conducted by Solar Roadways, the new solar highways could be capable of generating as much as three times the amount of electricity now used in the United States. Along with solving many of the nation's energy problems and providing much-needed power to regular homes and electrical vehicles, the new technology could also negate the massive costs needed to continually maintain traditionally paved roadways.

If the Brusaw's future invention is brought to fruition, it would to tie into the overall energy generation grid. With the price of electricity fluctuating literally by the hour, the ability to not only meet the country's needs but also produce an excess makes this future invention worth watching.

Today, Keystone Electronics supplies quick fit terminals and fuse clips and holders to the alternative and traditional power generation market sector.  In our past blogs, we’ve highlighted past inventions that continue to provide us with the benefits of smart minds.  This current invention has the potential to affect future generations and as an electronics components manufacturer, we hope to be part of that future.