Solar Roads

Get ready for some futuristic driving! It appears the company SolarRoadways has created roadway solar panels, with embedded LED lights! This idea was born while Scott and Julie Brusaw worked in their garden, discussing their concerns for our environment. To began phase I and create a prototype, the couple applied for a Small Business Innovation Research award, they initially were awarded a six month $100,000 award.

Thus began SR1, during this process the couple gathered feasability documents from college professors as well as developed a

crude prototype. The SR1 prototype had embeded LEDs, but no solar cells, as it was an indoor project during this stage. Scott and Julie were joined by many volunteers who assisted in every aspect of the journey.  In February of 2010, the SR1 prototype was complete. It was a 12×12 foot panel and was nearly impossible to transport and install, though, the Brusaw’s were not concerned about transporting, their goal at this point was to show the world that it functioned.

There were other prototypes as well, for example they built a prototype that contained a stormwater redistribution system  and a 3×3 foot crosswalk panel with embeded sensors to experiment with these technologies. The embeded sensors could determine weight, and whether, a person or animal were on the surface, allowing the crosswalk to flash when a certain type of weight was detected. Signals were triggered at the detection of the weight and ‘Slow Down’ appeared, indicating to drivers, that pedestrians or animals are in the cross walk.  The roads have the ability to communicate with one another as well as drivers on their surfaces.

In April of 2010, SolarRoadways became a finalist in the EETimes ACE awards, these awards honor the best engineers, products and companies that are making a difference in the electronics industry.

SolarRoadways have since given Ted Talks on their invention to deliver their message. In late 2010, the couple received an invitation to apply for a Phase ll contract. In July of 2011, they were awareded with a 2-y ear contract with $750,000 for Phase II by the USDOT. With this funding, the couple went on to create a prototype for the worlds first solar parking lot. If you remember reading about SR1, it was so large and difficult to transport.. so the couple, made many changes to the prototype SR2, making the panels only 4 square feet, changing them to a hexagon shape, using glass on top and bottom of each panel and embedding solar cells. Phase ll used 10% recycled glass, created 108 panels and installed it all on their own property near their lab for easy monitoring.

When wrapping up Phase ll, the challenge became where to get funding for further research. The couple created a indiegogo campaign, a crowdfunding source, their goal was to reach a million dollars. They were able to exceed their goal and fund 2.2 Million dollars! With many supporters, even celebrities, their research has been furthered. Scott and Julie were invited to the White House for the 1st Maker’s Faire, President Obama spoke and they were able to meet Bill Nye!! The science guy! Though after great publicity and tons of support, they have had to begin a period of silence in order to focus on the engineering.

After Phase ll and monitoring the solar parking lot, it became obvious that a few adjustments must be made. With Phase lll, the couple began increasing  the solar cell coverage, eliminating mounting holes and edge connectors, which increased solar cell coverage by 25%! In 2015, the were awarded 2-year $750,000 Phase IIl contract to allow the development and research of road and highway installations! One of the first roads to undergo testing, is the legendary Route 66, working along side Missouri’s Department of Transportation, SolarRoadways will get to test their panels on an actual roadway and sidewalks!

This is an amazing creation and deserves Global Acceptance. This could change our world as we know it, provide clean energy and preserve our natural rescources for years to come. Spread the word, share this story and find them on facebook, instagram, twitter, etc.

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