Solar Roads

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Into Darkness, May 26, 2014.

  1. Into Darkness

    Into Darkness Captain Captain

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    Keep seeing this idea doing the round online for the last couple of weeks. Solar roads.

    What are peoples opinions on this?

    Personally I feel like it's unfeasible. Resources would run dry surely. Doesn't solar require precious metals/minerals that aren't very abundant?
    Not to mention these things would constantly need maintenance. etc.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlTA3rnpgzU
     
  2. Ar-Pharazon

    Ar-Pharazon Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    No more maintenance than current roads and other replaced technologies.

    The various industries currently making & maintaining roads would fight this tooth & nail. They don't even like the idea of mixing rubber in with asphalt to make roads last longer because (gods forbid) it would mean less work for them.

    Yeah, the feasibility would depend on how many millions of these could be made at a time.

    I like the thought they could be heated, thus eliminating the need for plowing & salt, which is the biggest problem for roads outside of actual traffic.
     
  3. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    It's cute how the solar panels generate enough energy to melt the snow - the snow that's blocking the sunlight from hitting the solar panels.
     
  4. Into Darkness

    Into Darkness Captain Captain

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    Thing is all these panels have LED's within them, can you imagine what would happen when billions of panels start needing pulling out cos LED's need replacing inside the panels. Sounds like a huge job.

    Perhaps motorways made from these panels is feasible but all roads and sidewalks and driveways and parking lots seems excessive.

    Also what about dirt? I'm pretty sure a layer of dirt would eventually build up, how we gonna clean all these panels every day? what about vehicles with dirty wheels.
     
  5. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Interesting idea, but would only really fly in warmer climates where snow wouldn't destroy roads. We have enough trouble keeping up with having to fix roads as it is and this would only add to the burden.
     
  6. urbandefault

    urbandefault Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It might be feasible at some point in the future, but I don't see how it could be cost effective now.

    The best idea I've heard so far for alternative energy production is a combination of solar, wind, and natural gas.
     
  7. Ar-Pharazon

    Ar-Pharazon Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    It's really the salt and plowing that destroy the roads, but the ice getting into the asphalt and expanding/contracting does a pretty good job too.

    But if these things are heated and there's the ability to channel water away, maybe not a problem unless it's too cold for the heating to do it's job.
     
  8. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    The snow mostly comes at night, when the sun isn't shining and the road is cold. The next day the road is covered in snow and ice and the cells won't generate much energy.
     
  9. Ar-Pharazon

    Ar-Pharazon Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    If there's enough of them, could they store enough power to heat at night?

    If they're going to have LED road markers, they would have to have some power storage capability.
     
  10. urbandefault

    urbandefault Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    We already have LED markers here in school zones. LEDs don't take much power and last a long time. The problem is that they don't generate heat like an Edison style bulb. We've seen the problems with LED traffic lights that don't melt ice and snow like conventional lights.

    I'm thinking a big multi-vehicle collision could take out several sections of solar road panels, possibly disrupting the circuit. Multiply this by the number of accidents on a daily basis. Repairs could throw a huge monkey wrench into the power grid.

    It just doesn't seem like a workable idea to me at this point.
     
  11. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    True enough. I guess I should have specified snow and ice as well as plowing and salt.

    Still though, there's the aspect that we can't really control, like say, pipes bursting. This winter, we had a pipe burst twice within a 2 week period. The heating might help the surface, but temperatures below ground would still be cold enough to cause pipes to freeze. I just feel that it would be a logistical nightmare for cities to deal with. Our city has recently removed stone interlays from some of our downtown streets for maintenance cost reasons.
     
  12. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Volcanic ash makes for great fill, or so I've heard.
     
  13. farmkid

    farmkid Commodore Commodore

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    A relative of mine (who happens to be an engineer) saw this on Facebook and immediately wondered the same question. Based on the numbers given, he calculated it would cost $56 trillion to do all the roads in the US. Nope, not feasible.
     
  14. Ar-Pharazon

    Ar-Pharazon Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    ^ I wonder how much we'll spend on fixing those same roads by conventional means.
     
  15. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    And of course unlike asphalt, they can pay back some of the money because of the electricity they generate. But like any technology the devil is in the detail, not all roads would be suitable.
     
  16. farmkid

    farmkid Commodore Commodore

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    I don't know how much, but certainly much less than what it would cost to convert them to solar roads. My relative's figures were $70/sq. ft. for solar roads (from the inventor) vs. $10/sq. ft. for conventional construction. It sounds like a good idea, and I'm all for trying it out in a few places to see how it works, but the cost is a serious hurdle for its widespread use. $56 trillion is about 4 times the GDP of the US.
     
  17. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Of course the entrire road surface might not have to be replaced just run a strip of these devices along the side of the road.
     
  18. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Since the mid-1960's, total federal highway spending in constant 2009 dollars has averaged about $40 billion a year. That includes both construction and maintenance. So you'd want to save up a thousand years of highway revenue to install it.

    Something that would be much cheaper and simpler for melting snow and ice would be digging deep trenches and filling them with spiral plastic pipe, then filling the trenches back in. Then you can use geothermal heat to pump warm fluid up into lines built into the road surface, especially through bridges and overpasses that have installation installed on the undersides to cut their heat loss in half. Whenever it gets cold and a snow front moves in, you just turn on the pumps to bring the roadway above freezing.
     

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