The last 100 years has seen so many amazing advancements in technology. Today we have gadgets and gizmos that were thought to only exist in science fiction; we have methods of transportation that are more efficient and much faster than ever imagined; and we can communicate with people around the world at close to the speed of light. But, in this world of microchips and touchscreen mobile devices, what is the next great innovation that will shake our world? Is it hover cars, lunar colonies, or telepathic communications? And where will this great new innovation come from? Well, many believe that Idaho will be the birthplace of such an innovation, but it may be a humble compared a city on the moon.
Scott and Julie, Idaho natives, inventors, and founders of the Solar Roadways corporation, have been developing a new technology that will revolutionize the transportation industry, and possibly the energy market as we know it. This new technology, as you may have guessed, is solar roadways.
Scott and Julie have spent the last several years trying to find a way to reduce the amount of damage we human beings are doing to our planet. One day, as they were musing on this idea, this thought came to them: why don’t we replace all existing roadways with solar panels? They bake in the sun all day anyway! The dream that Scott and Julie had would turn the usually damaging asphalt into miniature power plants.
So how would it work? Would they just make the entire road one large sheet of glass? In short, no. The solar panels would be 2 feet by 2 feet hexagonal pieces that link together. With enough of them linked together, they can span the length and breadth of the road. However, these panels are not just solar panels, they also have inside them an amazing arsenal of technology that makes them some of the most useful pieces of pavement there ever was. After the solar panels, there is also a LED light system and a heating element which is then all encased in a traction friendly tempered glass material.
The first and foremost benefit of these solar roadways is the power that is generated by them. Instead of wasting space and solar energy on bare asphalt, these solar roadways will collect it like the leaves of a plant. It is reported that if all the roads in America were turned into solar roadways, as a nation we would produce 3x as much energy as we do now (according to the Solar Roadways’ website). This new influx of energy would mean we could stop burning coal to generate electricity, make it more feasible for people to use electric cars, and could possibly even obliterate our oil dependence as a nation.
Though the solar power energy is the main reason for wanting this new great technology, the second most useful purpose for it would have to be its programmable lights. These lights can be programmed to appear in any configuration imaginable allowing the programmer to change the lanes on a freeway in a matter of seconds, or redo a parking lot configuration with the push of a button; no more arduous hours of expensive painting, instead, just reprogram it! This can even be implemented on playgrounds or in parks to change the lines for whatever sport or game you want to play, instantly changing from a basketball court to a hopscotch and foursquare field.
As useful as these configurable lights are, the most beneficial thing it can do is when it is coupled with pressure sensors. These pressure sensors are designed to detect unnatural weight distributions on the road like an animal crossing or a car crash, it can then warn drivers by stopping them early or simply sending a message with the lights. This ability of the roads would cut down on accidents dramatically. Imagine it, you are driving down a mountain road (which there are a lot of in Idaho) and the road sends you a message that says there is an elk on the road two hundred feet ahead. That would give you plenty of time to slow down and avoid a possibly fatal accident.
If you have ever had to shovel your driveway or wait for a snow plow to clear your road before you could go anywhere, then you will appreciate this function. The heating element would work just like a heated driveway, melting the snow before it gets too thick, or freezes over. Why would that be so beneficial? Well, that would mean no more slick roads, fewer accidents, and less money being paid to have it removed. Not to mention, you won’t have to wait while your driveway is shoveled or the road is plowed.
Water Treatment Abilities
While talking about snow and water, it is important to note that when the snow is melted, it doesn’t just sit on the road or run off to erode the sides of the road. In fact, it is just the opposite. The solar roadways would have pipes, channels, and gutters that would take all the water away from the area where it fell and drop it off at a water treatment plant, instead of just making the road slick. Some areas, ones that may be farther away from a water treatment plant will be treated on sight.
A worry of many people’s about this project is whether or not the surface will be ok to drive on. Well, the answer is, yes it is. The surface of each panel is made of tempered glass which makes it nearly impossible to break (and when it does break it simply breaks into a million pieces, not into large sharp pieces), and this glass is formed so that has large raised bumps on it about the width of two-quarters and about a half an inch high. These bumps will allow the tires to grab the road and get all the traction it needs. They have tested this out with large machinery and they had no problem starting and stopping on the surface.
These solar roadways will also be outfitted with places for other cables such as telephone lines, cable lines, and other power lines. This would make it so that we could bury all those lines instead of erecting them on poles. This would make downed power lines a thing of the past and make them easier and safer for workers to access.
With added space, there could be compartments placed every mile or so on deserted highways full of car repair supplies.
The beauty of the solar roadway program would have to be its honeycomb pieces. These pieces allow road repairs to be done quickly and easily because, instead of ripping up a section of road and repaving it, a single piece could be taken out and replaced in a matter of minutes for half the cost. Broken panels can also be reported quicker to repair persons. Since they are all computers and they are all connected, if a panel stops working, the surrounding panels would realize it is broken and report it almost as soon as it happened.
Clean energy is a major goal for a lot of Americans. We care about the earth and we want to see it last for future generations. The solar roadway program would help to do that. It would utilize the miles and miles of land that we already are using all across the states to produce energy.
To learn more about these great Idahoan inventors and what they are doing, visit their website at: http://www.solarroadways.com/intro.shtml
To learn more about Idaho and all the amazing opportunities it can offer you, contact one of our licensed agents and they will be glad to help you. Their expertise in Idaho affairs and the Idaho real estate market make them the perfect resource for people who want to know more about this great state.