2010 - [Sustainable Concepts] Solar Roads and Tree Selection Guide
2010, vol. 82
Welcome to the February 2010 newsletter from Design
Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's
Quote of the Month: "Waste not the smallest thing
created, for grains of sand make mountains, and atomies
- E. Knight
Lisa A. Swan
Roads: The Greatest Pipe Dream Yet
Over 5.7 million miles of highway stretch across
America alone. The carbon footprint produced by
the machinery needed for salting and snow removal
of these paved roads is almost immeasurable. With
the world's attention focused on the climate crisis
industry has shifted toward developments in renewable
The sun, which is an unequivocal provider of all
life energy, is now the inspiration behind an ambitious
project one small Idaho company hopes will someday
be responsible for cutting greenhouse gases in half.
The project, which is already in phase I of its
development is to create "a series of structurally-engineered
solar panels that are driven upon", or ‘solar-roadways',
as creators Scott and Julie Brusaw have dubbed them.
The idea is to replace all current petroleum-based
asphalt roads, parking lots, and driveways with
Solar Road Panels that collect and store solar energy
to be used by our homes and businesses. This renewable
energy replaces the need for the current fossil
fuels used by the generation of electricity. Getting
the project off the ground was no easy task and
securing funding, even for Phase I of production
was a challenge. "Getting the Phase I contract was
mainly about physically writing the proposals to
get it approved for funding; to prove that these
panels were feasible. When I first came up with
the idea, my team was invited by the Department
of Transportation in Virginia to come out and present
for them, and so we did. They were excited about
the project and asked a lot of questions, soon after
we applied for funding", says co-creator, Scott
Brusaw. The funding they received was a $100,000
grant from the Dept of Transportation to build a
prototype, "I'm madly ordering parts as fast as
I can," says Scott.
As asphalt and tar have never been credited as unparalleled
engineering it is easy to understand that solar
panel highways will require a level of complexity
not yet considered for roadways. The panels are
said to consist of three layers. The base will contain
power and data lines and is overlaid with the electronics
strata that contain solar cells, LEDs and super-capacitors
which would produce and store electricity.
The LED's would provide ‘paint' for the highways
and be able to communicate messages such as ‘slow'
or ‘detour ahead' with the use of lights brought
to the surface. The top layer will be made of glass
that would provide the same traction as asphalt.
Even more impressive would be their ability to heat
up, melting ice from the road, "Our target date
to finish Phase I is February 12, 2010. During this
demonstration the snow should be falling where we
are, allowing us to demonstrate how the panels'
heating elements can melt snow or ice. We will videotape
everything and put it up on our website."
Though entirely ingenious the project has some obvious
flaws, for which solutions are being furiously researched.
Solar panels are notoriously fragile and would not
be able to withstand the weight of even light vehicles.
"We are trying to work on developing a type of glass
that would be able to withstand the pressure of
trucks and other vehicles driving over it daily.
This glass that we're going to be layering over
the panels needs to have enough grip and not be
slippery, especially in rain or snow. We have partnered
with Pennsylvania State University to develop the
glass surface for our panels, and they're going
to be testing it using 80,000-lb. trucks."
Though the price tag for implanting solar roads
throughout the country is estimated at an unworldly
$35 trillion, the Brusaw's hope that funding from
Phase II of their contract will allow them to start
implementing solar panels in parking lots of businesses,
and possibly begin mass-producing them shortly after.
The product has received widespread interest globally
from countries wanting to build plants. "We're getting
requests from all around the world, from countries
in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The Czech Republic
contacted us just last week about possibly having
some of their people visit our site, and once this
project here gets off the ground, and we have plants
that are mass-producing the panels for the roads,
they would like to have some of their employees
come over here for 2-3 years and see how everything
works, and to gain confidence in getting the project
off the ground over there as well."
Sure they will be ploughing the snow from our roads
this year, but keep in mind they laughed at the
light bulb and said man was never meant to fly.
Jennifer Maclellan is the Senior Writer for the
Green Guide Network. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview with Scott Brusaw conducted by Danielli
Marfori, Creative Intern for the Green Guide Network.
Article & Picture © GreenGuideNetwork.com.
on "Solar Roads: The Greatest Pipe Dream Yet" on
The Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute at Cal Poly
San Luis Obispo has a tree selection application
available on the web: http://selectree.calpoly.edu/attribute_search.lasso
SelecTree for California is an interactive tree
selection program designed to match specific trees
to specific applications such as Max Height, Flower
Color, Longevity, Disease Resistance, Attracts Wildlife,
etc. The Tree Selection Guide listis 1,481 trees
with up to 49 attributes and over 6,050 photos for
1,068 trees available from tree detail records.
Search by tree attribute or by name.
Article © Lisa A. Swan, Design Forward
on "Tree Selection Guide" on Lisa's Blog.
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