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The road of the future may be covered with solar-powered glass - Click above to watch video after the jump

Is a solar-powered glass road in our driving future? Scott Brusaw, an engineer from Idaho, believes so. With aid and interest from the federal government and General Electric, Brusaw has been refining his concept of the road of the future. Super-strong glass and solar cells embedded below the top layers could serve as both a nexus of travel and energy.

As the sun energizes the solar cells, energy can be transferred to power street signs, nearby homes and roadside businesses. In snowy climates, the collected energy could heat the roadway and melt snow and ice, eliminating the need for large fleets of plows.

Brusaw insists that glass developers can create a strong enough material that traction and durability would not be an issue. A few problems do stand in the way of course, as is typically the case with new ideas and technology. Most notable of these problems is the issue of cost. Brusaw estimates that it would costs about $4.4 million per mile to lay down this super-glass roadway. Of course, the road would eventually recoup that money and even generate a greater return, but the initial cost is a daunting one.

Brusaw hopes to begin proving the effectiveness of the technology and he is going to do so by starting smaller by teaming up with a nationwide chain to revamp existing parking lots. The lots could be heated and also over a recharging station for electric vehicles.

Click past the jump to see just how such a road would work.

[Source: CNN, YouTube]Continue reading Solar-powered glass roads the way of the future? [w/video]

Solar-powered glass roads the way of the future? [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 28 Jan 2011 08:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.



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FUNCTION OVER FORM
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This would be awesome if it came to fruit, esp if the glass roads were made well enough that there was little need to repair them all the time like has to be done with paved roads. If nothing else, if this eliminated pot holes I would be exstatic!
 

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Wow, neat concept. The only thing I'm concerned about is making this super strong glass mimic the grip of asphalt.
 

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4 mil per mile...:eek:
Yeah, pretty crazy price. But the parking lots are a great place to start. good, low-speed test-bed to see how the surface responds to weight, heat, cold, precipitation, etc. If the material can last long enough without needing repair, which it should, this could easily be more cost-efficient than asphalt. I love the idea of the parking lots powering EV charging stations. Good forward-thinking revenue producer.

03GTV6 said:
Wow, neat concept. The only thing I'm concerned about is making this super strong glass mimic the grip of asphalt.
Same here, that and the related issue of transparency for the solar panels coupled with a friction surface and the inevitable road-grime from vehicle use.
 

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great in theory, will never happen practically. In order for the solar rays to reach teh cells, the glass needs to be clean. Clean glass gives outstanding traction (if your tires are clean), I would wager better than asphalt. But dusty or wet glass is more slick than ice. If you find a way to prevent dust from falling on it..... lol I am pretty sure most solor cells move to optimize angles ect. and have a verticle vector to them so dust doens't accumulate as easily? When you do a burn out or skid and smear the glass then you rendor that useless untill somone cleans the smears off.

Then you have scratching, of all the rocks and pebbles caught in tires.....

They say it can melt snow, so now you have water on glass which is just as slippery. I guess you could maybe have it hot enough to evaporae the water, but then you will wear tires more, though I guess you could have higher inflated tires, but this would only be a factor on this one solar road screwing you everywhere else. And again, the dust is still a factor.

Or if you 'roughed' up the glass, they you would have traction, but it is no longer very transparent.

I don't think hard glass is the solution, it is eliminating the environmental issues or what happens on the glass.

How hot do you think glass will get on a 120* day with black backing behind it? It will probably melt your tires.

Though the parking lot idea isn't too bad..... You are driving slower so safetey isn't as much of an issue, but parking lots are usualy covered with cars.... unless it is night time, when the sun isn't out.

This would proabbly become the new 'place' for birds to crap. It is so shiny and clean, we would have to kill all the birds.

Quit wasting our time to reseach a flawed and highly ineficeint power source and go nuclear.
 

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great in theory, will never happen practically. In order for the solar rays to reach teh cells, the glass needs to be clean. Clean glass gives outstanding traction (if your tires are clean), I would wager better than asphalt. But dusty or wet glass is more slick than ice. If you find a way to prevent dust from falling on it..... lol I am pretty sure most solor cells move to optimize angles ect. and have a verticle vector to them so dust doens't accumulate as easily? When you do a burn out or skid and smear the glass then you rendor that useless untill somone cleans the smears off.

Then you have scratching, of all the rocks and pebbles caught in tires.....

They say it can melt snow, so now you have water on glass which is just as slippery. I guess you could maybe have it hot enough to evaporae the water, but then you will wear tires more, though I guess you could have higher inflated tires, but this would only be a factor on this one solar road screwing you everywhere else. And again, the dust is still a factor.

Or if you 'roughed' up the glass, they you would have traction, but it is no longer very transparent.

I don't think hard glass is the solution, it is eliminating the environmental issues or what happens on the glass.

How hot do you think glass will get on a 120* day with black backing behind it? It will probably melt your tires.

Though the parking lot idea isn't too bad..... You are driving slower so safetey isn't as much of an issue, but parking lots are usualy covered with cars.... unless it is night time, when the sun isn't out.

This would proabbly become the new 'place' for birds to crap. It is so shiny and clean, we would have to kill all the birds.

Quit wasting our time to reseach a flawed and highly ineficeint power source and go nuclear.
Gorilla glass. While its not meant for roads, the stuff is tough as hell and cheap. Give it a few years and I'm sure they could refine it even more to be usable for roadways.


Not sure I'm for the nuclear either. I dont want my kids, kids, kids, kids, grand kids to have to worry about tons of spent nuclear fuel.
 

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That is pretty cool glass, but again, that is just one 'easily' overcome obastacle. Controlling the environment is much harder and that is where traction issues and transparancy issues come into play. And just because it is flexible, doens't mean it can't scratch.

And as far as spent nuclear fuel, space is huge, just chuck it out there. Try to to hit other planets, but if ou did it isn't a huge deal, they get hit by stuff 1000 times as big all the time.lol The sun produces 10000 times that or probably more, it would be like throwing a match into a CA wild fire lol or adding a drop of red food coloring into the ocean, it would take a millions of years before you turned 1 gallon of water red if it didn't process it out by then.
 

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That is pretty cool glass, but again, that is just one 'easily' overcome obastacle. Controlling the environment is much harder and that is where traction issues and transparancy issues come into play. And just because it is flexible, doens't mean it can't scratch.

And as far as spent nuclear fuel, space is huge, just chuck it out there. Try to to hit other planets, but if ou did it isn't a huge deal, they get hit by stuff 1000 times as big all the time.lol
I like it. I honestly don't know why we don't do that now. Worst case, 100,000,000 years from now some alien sends it back :)
 

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Really we should just reprocess it. I think the process was originally banned in the US because of fear that it would fall into the wrong hands and be weaponized, but several other countries in the world do it.

We can't send it into space because it's waaaay too expensive. Besides, we have plenty of perfectly good volcanoes to dump it in. :D
 

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Really we should just reprocess it. I think the process was originally banned in the US because of fear that it would fall into the wrong hands and be weaponized, but several other countries in the world do it.

We can't send it into space because it's waaaay too expensive. Besides, we have plenty of perfectly good volcanoes to dump it in. :D
Expensive? Hardly. The manneed survival and navigation is what makes our rockets to the moon expensive, UAV's are the future and about 10-20 times cheaper. A "disposable rocket' I can't see costing more than 5-10mil. An ICBM only cost about 50 mil (I would bet the nuclear payload accounts for a lot of that), and a space shuttle is in the billions, so that is 100 times cheaper for an 'unmanned' varient. You would probably need as many plants as you do house representatives.

Though researchers say was only have 50-100 years of uranium left, so our future generations would be pretty pissed off to find out we chucked it all into space lol

We can re-process it though as N2O said.
 

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What's the payload capacity of the transport vehicles though? If it's relatively large, we can just send a whole ton of stuff up every once in a while. If it's small, we'd have to be sending them off constantly, I'd imagine.

Dunno, I'm not a rocket scientist. Still seems rather expensive to me, lol.
 

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Now there is 2k metric tons of nuclear waste a year (about 70k tons on earth right now), and we would proably increase that by 25 times so 50 tons a year. ICBM's weight about 10k tons, so that is only about 5 ICBM's at 50 mil a pop would cost 250mil anually which is pocket change to our budget. It probably cost at least 1 bil a year just for regular garbage/waste. Though apparently nuclear waste/spent fuel has 95% left so reprocessing does sound like the answer, though getting rid of it when we do need to, doens't seem like that much reletively speaking. We have already spent over 11 Billion to contain out spent fuel and by 2017 we will have spent 90bil, so 25 mil is pennies.


I don't know why we don't do that with regular unrecyclable trash. Lol, there was a futurama episode where they did this untill a huge trash meteor was headed ther way about the kill them. Though trash is no where near as dense as uranium so you couldn't transport nearly as much.
 

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That Futurama episode was the first thing I thought of when you guys were talking about blasting it off into space! :rofl:
 
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