Saturday, 24 May 2014

Crowdfunding Paves the Way For Solar Paneled Roads

The need for alternative cleaner renewable energy in the wake of the continued escalation of climate change has seen many ideas through crowdsourcing come to fruition.  Solar Roadways is a new start-up established to develop and implement solar powered panels to pave the roads of America. This innovative road surface technology, which aims to provide safer roads and also harness power from the sun to provide homes and businesses with clean sustainable energy, has proven successful with small scale test. Now the Solar Roadways looks to raise $1,000,000 through the crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo to develop large scale prototypes.

Solar Roadways is the brain child of engineer Scott Brusaw and his wife Julia, a trained counsellor. An electrical engineer of for over 25 years Brusaw developed an idea of creating safer roads SMART roads that would perform a number of invaluable functions. Each panel would contain 120 LED lights that would act as visible road markers and signs. These would be safer and clearer especially for night time driving, and even warn of impending dangers and prevent accidents. The heat generated by the panels would keep the roads clear of ice and snow making the roads safer. The panels would also have alongside secure cable corridors which would provide safe storage for power and data cables illiminating the need for overhead cables. The ultimate purpose of Solar Roadways however is to remove the dependency on fossil fuels by providing clean energy to homes and businesses as well as infrastructure that would power electric (possibly driver-less) cars.

The first small scale prototype was completed in 2010, a 12 by 12 foot road panel made of poly-carbonate plates instead of glass with no solar cells. The panel was tested indoors to illustrate how it worked. Once the details had been configured a larger scale model complete with solar cells, was built. This second phase panel was big enough to cover a car park and endured all manner of stress testing such as load traction and impact resistance of the glass. The successful tests attracted the attention of the US Federal Highway Administration who subsequently provided two phases of funding to Brusaw for larger prototype development. The remainder of the funds needed is being sought through crowdfunding.

Solar Roadways has less than 10 days to secure $1,000,000 target and has already garnered nearly $650,000. In exchange for donations, supporters will receive a variety of rewards including named acknowledgements as well as a variety of merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs and solar panel pendants. Ultimately the Solar Roadways project is more about a genuine desire to further the advancement of clean and sustainable energy through solar power. For more information about the project and to make a donation click here to visit the project's campaign page.

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