Cleaner Energy through more Lane-Miles?

This is the kinda thing that, if it works, is really cool:

Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have just done a batch of research that they hope will help turn the world’s roads into cheap collectors of solar power.

They started with the assumption that asphalt gets frakking hot when the sun shines on it, and then started making some serious leaps.

First, they decided to figure out what part of the asphalt gets hottest, which turns out to be about two centimeters below the surface. Then they tried to figure out how to make it even hotter. The painted an anti-reflective coating to their test blocks, and then added highly thermally conductive quartzite to the mix.

The result is blacktop that gets even hotter and stays hotter for longer than regular asphalt. Of course, this left them with the problem of how to get the energy out of the road. By laying down a series of flexible and highly conductive copper pipes before pouring the asphalt they were able to pump water through the asphalt, picking up the heat, for use in power generation.

This is the kind of private sector innovation that needs to be encouraged. The private sector, working to harness the resources that we have, to address our power concerns. I love the idea.

Maybe we can get Paul Foer to be reasonable about supporting constructing more lane-miles yet…

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