It may be a long road to Scott Brusaw’s vision of the future, but he believes the nation’s 28,000 square miles of paved roads could be turned into a power generating, microprocessing part of the smart grid that solves a variety of energy and driving situations. As reported by Engineering.com, Brusaw heads a company called Solar Roadways, and has designed what he calls the “Intelligent Electric Road,” built with a construction method that includes three main layers, each of which has a distinct purpose.
The top layer has a glass panel that absorbs sunlight and projects LED light in every direction to help with night vision.
The middle layer contains a microprocessor that senses loads from the road surface, and sends communication about conditions to the rest of the grid. It also has a heating element that will keep ice and snow off of road surfaces.
The bottom layer is part of the smart grid, transmitting power up and down the road with the possibility of fiber-optic cables and leaky cables to bring internet access and eliminate the need for cell phone towers.
The roads would be non-petroleum based (unlike asphalt), and eventually would be far more economical to build. Since they would be constructed of interlocking hexagonal segments, they would be much easier to repair as well.
Perhaps best of all, since they are creating electrical energy, they could dynamically power electric cars on the move, reducing or eliminating the need for plug-in charging.