When you think of solar power, likely the image that pops to mind is one of arrays of delicate, glittering roof-mounted panels made of silicon. If we were to tell you that a family from Idaho had it in their heads that it would be a good idea for us all to be driving around on solar panels, you might think they were off their nut. If, on the other hand, you knew that the U.S. department of transportation gave the project $100,000 back in 2009, it might inspire a little bit more confidence in what seems like a crazy idea.
For the last five years, Julie and Scott Brusaw have been fine-tuning their solar roadway concept. First, they textured a super-durable glass roadway surface to give it the same kind of grip that cars get from asphalt. Then, they added LEDs beneath the glass to create light-up lane lines (since you can't paint a solar panel without making it useless). They even made the panels self-heating so that they won't freeze during inclement weather, and will also prevent ice from forming on the road surface.
Currently, the Brushaws have a working prototype of their solar road that functions as their driveway. It's weathered a snowy winter without failing, and seems to be functioning properly after a year of normal wear. Now the Brushaws would like to bring their inventive roadway to the masses in the form of parking lot paving and sidewalks. The electricity generated by these small-scale test areas will be capable of powering local businesses and save folks from having to shovel snow.
To get this next step of their plan underway, the Brusaws are asking for $1 million in crowdfunding through an Indiegogo campaign. It's a lot of money to ask for, being that these solar cells are supposed to generate way more revenue in power than they cost to produce. Still, self-cleaning roads that could generate more electricity than the U.S. currently needs are a great goal. We just wonder how much more money we'll need to come up with before the Solar Roadways project actually reaches the road.