Turning roads into solar collectors – why has no-one thought of this before?

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Roads get really hot. Really really hot. But 2cm below the surface of the road gets hotter still, and some researchers at Worcester Polytechnic University reckon that we could use that heat in power generation.

The scientists did everything they could to get a stretch of asphalt as hot as possible – embedding highly conductive quartzite into the surface, and painting everything with an anti-reflective coating so that more sunlight is absorbed. The result was a road which got insanely hot, and stayed insanely hot for a while after the sun went down.

But how do you get that energy out of the road? The researchers embedded highly flexible, and conductive copper pipe into the road and ran water through it. That water then transfers the heat to a power generation unit and power is generated. Further efficiency could be gained by replacing the water with a heat-exchanging fluid of some sort.

Awesome! Power generation that takes up no land, is really cheap, is invisible to average people and can be put in loads and loads of places. In fact Holland have already done it in a few places – An industrial park of some 160,000 square feet in the city of Hoorn in northern Holland is kept warm in winter with the help of heat stored during the summer from 36,000 square feet of pavement.

If any researchers are reading, then more of this sort of thing please!

(via Ecogeek)

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Duncan Geere