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Road Made Out of Glass

Driving on Glass — Solar Roads of the Future

When I browse around the internet searching for the latest green news to write about on my blog I’ve come across some pretty cool stuff. But this takes the cake (so far) for providing me with a jaw-dropping moment of admiration.

A co-worker sent me an article from Scientific American titled: Driving on Glass? Inventor Hopes to Lay Down Solar Roads.

This sure got my attention.  Scott Brusaw, of Sagle, Idaho-based Solar Roadways hopes to make this headline a reality. He is working on building a prototype of his so-called “Solar Road Panel” —basically a road that will generate power every time you drive on it. Sounds crazy? That’s what I thought at first but then I read a little further.

The solar road panel prototype is 1,024 modules, with each containing a solar cell, a light-emitting diode and, someday, an ultracapacitor for storage—placed between a layer of some yet-to-be developed glass as well as a layer of conducting material.

Glass is certainly not what comes to mind when one thinks of building material for roads, but this won’t be your average glass. It will be textured to allow for water run-off and tire-grip for vehicles. Heating elements — similar to those you find in your car’s rear windshield — will help melt snow or ice and the road will be self-cleaning. And of course, it will be super strong and able to handle the extreme stress of having mass amounts of weight on it.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. This type of glass doesn’t exist — not yet anyway.

Brusaw is hoping to partner with researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s Materials Research Institute to develop it.

With $40,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Brusaw is currently building a prototype from chemically hardened glass panels and experimenting with various types of solar cells. The ultimate goal is to create a cross-country highway system that doubles as a national electricity generator and power grid.

The prototype is due to be tested in February of 2010. I’m curious to see how this turns out and what lies on the road ahead — literally.

Read more about solar roads here