Electric Avenue: Solar Road Panels Offer Asphalt Alternative

I can't imagine them standing up to the wear of tractor trailers, but Julie and Scott Brusaw, a married couple from Sandpoint, Idaho, have invented ...

... a surprising alternative to conventional asphalt motorways: solar road panels. In addition to providing electricity, saving oil and melting fresh snow, it could also prevent accidents.

... Solar Roadways, as the Brusaws have dubbed their invention, are heated and equipped with integrated LED screens, which act not only as street markings, but can also show warnings directly on the road.

The Brusaws are aware that their vision cannot be realized in a day. They've decided to start small: with pedestrian and bicycle paths or large parking lots at supermarkets.

In 2009 they received their first government grants to construct the prototypes.

The Brusaws' work was impressive enough that this spring, they are launching a pilot project, for which the state awarded them $750,000. In their hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho, near the Canadian border, the couple has built their first parking lot made from solar panels.

The composition of a panel ... consists of three parts: on top, a hard glass layer containing the solar panels, LED lights and heating. Then comes the second layer, which contains the controller, where a microprocessor unit activates the lights and communicates with the road panels. Finally, the bottom layer ensures that the electrical current collected from above makes it to homes and charging stations for electric cars. In addition, there is space for other cables, such as television or telephone lines.

Along the sides of the modules are canals that collect water drainage ...

Hey, it's thinking outside the box. I can see thousands of miles of seldom used roads in the desert generating power for nearby towns.

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I am sending this background information so you can see for yourselves the massive effects of sudden climate change as demonstrated by Glacial Lake Missoula, the Cordilleran ice sheet, whose Purcell lobe periodically dammed up the Clark Fork River in Idaho, creating Glacial Lake Missoula. 

"About 15,000 years ago, in the waning millennia of the last Ice Age, a vast lake known as Glacial Lake Missoula suddenly burst through the ice dam that plugged it at one end. In the space of just 48 hours, geologists believe, the collapse sent 500 cubic miles of water cascading across the Pacific Northwest, creating overnight such unusual landscapes as the scablands of eastern Washington State."

Lake Pend Oreille is a very deep lake, carved out by glaciers, and in direct pathway of the Great Glacial floods 15,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. It left deep deposits of boulders, gravels, sands and soils in valleys with rivers carving through them. Spokane River Valley and the Columbia River has huge deposit bars from the flow of rocks, gravels, and sands, some carried in or on ice bergs all the way to the Pacific. 

Sandpoint is just an hour or two north east of us in an incredibly beautiful part of this Earth. Ice Age glaciers filled the valley where Brusaws live and meandering streams course through the Sandpoint, ID  area and Washington state to Portland and the Pacific. Climate change sometimes is instantaneous, massive, and carves out landforms, rivers and even creates ocean beds. 

This family has generated a lot of interests, and many engineers come and go as they observe Brusaws' work. Volunteers help create the individual units that make up the roadway. It is labor intensive to create these panels. 

We live in an age of enforced change caused by factors beyond our control. We move out of the age of the horse, beyond motors using fossil fuels, and toward an unknown, uninvented, and very unfamiliar era with many different ways of getting from here to there. It is an exciting time of opportunity for those who like to invent and create. Diminished are the days of the horse shoeing trade. 

Brusaws, Sandpoint, ID

Sandpoint, Idaho

 "Sandpoint lies on the shores of Idaho's largest lake, 43-mile-long Lake Pend Oreille, and is surrounded by three major mountain ranges, the SelkirkCabinet and Bitterroot ranges. It is home to Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Idaho's largest ski resort, and is on the International Selkirk Loop and two National Scenic Byways (Wild Horse Trail and Pend Oreille Scenic Byway).

A neat idea ... except that I wonder what the cost would be to lay down such roads.  The process would have to be automated roughly of the level that putting down asphalt or concrete is currently or very near that, or the overhead in creating such a road would be prohibitive at best.

Dreams are nice.  Pipe dreams?  Not so much.

Here's a video of the completed prototype.




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