Novel pavement system uses solar panels

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), has developed a novel pavement system that is made with solar panels.

This development, which is part of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, was the result of a research topic from the FHWA. Officials asked for a new pavement system that could create power, which would then be sent to the power grid.

The requirements included the use of recycled materials, the ability to handle traffic loads and the durability to prevent expensive replacement cycles.

Solar Roadways Inc. created a proposal for a self-sustaining pavement that is comprised of solar panels shaped as hexagons. If the model is successful, then the new pavement method could end the expense of replacing pavement and also create an intelligent pavement system. In addition, this innovation could alter the way the United States creates and uses its power.

So far, Solar Roadways has found that the best solar panels are created with low-iron glass that has a transparent surface. This system also has heating features to melt snow and four-color LED lighting in place of road lines for safer night time traveling.

The initial prototype pavement testing showed promising results. As of today, the main problem that must be addressed is a better manufacturing method. At the moment, the solar cells must be created by hand, which is expensive.

Organizations in this Story

U.S. Federal Highway Administration

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