Researchers have discovered a new way to remove the snow from roads using solar energy. They are convinced that the solar panels used to heat our houses could soon keep our streets free of ice and snow.
Currently, the project consisting of two different solar-powered road systems is under development. According to the researchers, the systems would store the energy produced by the sun to help clear streets and also could be a great source of clean electricity.
“We have more than 3 million miles of highways exposed to sunlight, so if we can harness this energy, it’s free,” said Rajib Mallick, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
As Mallick said, the idea is to embed pavement with fluid-filled pipes. The sun will then heat the fluid which is stored in an insulated chamber. When snow and ice hit the roads, the heated fluid (which is resistant to freezing) will be automatically released and so the snow will be melted. Besides this, the heat generated by the fluid could be used to provide energy to nearby houses.
The project is estimated to cost about $12,500 for every 50 meters of pipe and $1,000 for annual maintenance costs. Mallick is convinced that the system could pay for itself in just six months.