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Published on June 12th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

Video: Are Solar Roadways Too Good To Be True?

June 12th, 2014 by  

One of the most popular videos to go viral recently was that of Solar Freakin’ Roadways, an out-there concept to turn all of America’s roads into LED-equipped solar panels. Is Solar Roadways the real deal? YouTuber ThunderfOOt thinks it’s a bad idea, and he put together a lengthy takedown video in response.

To recap, Scott and Julie Brusaw recently started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money for their project, Solar Roadways, which wants to replace asphalt roads with high-strength glass-encased solar panels and LEDs. These roads would power themselves and the grid, could be lit up at night and be programmed to flash warning messages or change lane setups. It’s a clever, sci-fi-esque idea, and the Brusaws think they can make it work.

ThunderfOOt thinks otherwise.

Solar Roadways Engages IndieGoGo To Raise Funding (VIDEO)

In a nearly 30-minute video, the YouTube commentator explains point-by-point why he thinks Solar Roadways is full of crap. His main qualm is with the idea of using glass as a replacement of for asphalt, and he claims that even the hardest glass couldn’t stand up to the constant battering of 20-ton semi-trucks grinding sand into them day in and day out. Sounds like a point for engineers to argue if I’m honest.

That’s only one of the issues raised by this takedown video, as Thunderf00t correctly points out that many roads rarely if ever see the light of day thanks to traffic, trees, or just bad weather. Converting all of Seattle’s roads into solar panels wouldn’t do much to help the city’s power grid when it’s constantly overcast. And that’s not even factoring in the tremendous cost of converting even a small fraction of our roads into solar panels.

However, it’s also worth keeping in mind that the Brusaws have been working on Solar Roadways for years now, and to call this a con or scam is doing all of their hard work a disservice. While I don’t doubt that Solar Roadways may have some issues it needs to sort out, I have a hard time believing that this is some kind of “long con” given the length of time and the number of government loopholes the Brusaws have had to jump through. Their two million-dollar (and counting) IndieGoGo campaign may seem impressive, but stretch that out over at least 5 years of development time, minus all the research and materials, and suddenly that number doesn’t seem so mighty anymore.

All in all, it’s worth watching just for a second, informed-sounding opinion, though we’re still fans of Solar Roadways. What about you?

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • wideEyedPupil

    There intents might be pure as the Christ driven snow but that doesn’t make this anything less of a bullshit technological fix we definitely don’t have the largess for. It’s so fatally flawed on so many critical aspects it’s hard to call it anything more than a scam. I think they are blind believers, you’ve noticed both the Brusaws wear cruciforms on necklaces outside their clothing at every photo-op haven’t you, they’ll be needing divine intervention. They will make money (and have already) but it’s stupid beyond measure to think this is a smart investment for a nation.

  • Blue

    Re: Melting Snow.

    This alone proves that these morons are pie-in-the-sky dreamers, that seem to publish every brain-storm they have as truth. We should have solar panels in the road. AND, they should light up! And, they should melt ice and snow!! And, we could even sell them to the military!!! And they should charge up your electric cars!!! And we should tell everybody they already do it!!!!

    They make a lot of claims, provide no proof, and have no product. Puffery, smoke and mirrors. But the best claim, for me, is that these things will produce enough energy, ON THEIR OWN, to not only light up lane markings and warning signals for deer (really? 75,000 sq km of touch screens we’re going to drive on?) but also to heat up the panels to the point where they can melt snow and ice in a Northern climate.

    The most efficient way to melt ice and snow is the Sun. Period. When it beats down on a surface, it does so with 100% heat efficiency. That’s why roads are so stinking hot in the summer. When the Sun beats down on a solar panel, that panel is only able to convert 18-20% of the energy into electricity, which it then has to convert back into heat, as well as perform the other functions it’s supposed to – lane marking, WifI, power conversion from DC to AC, GPS, and deploy spy cameras. Not kidding. Those are ALL claims on their website.

    Forget putting expensive panels in the road and keep them on the rooftops where they belong, and don’t have to be lit up, and won’t kill anybody.

  • DreadPirateDoc

    Solar roadways should be devolped for the right use “RAIL”. Augmenting or replacing the power of our diesel electric trains would work very well indeed if offset to the actual rails. Perhaps this will lead to something good if the details are well thought out.

  • Robert Johnson

    If an ingenious idea interferes with your corporate profits, I know a good hatchet man to kill it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Can you tell the difference between a good idea and a questionable one?

      • Robert Johnson

        One might say that paving blocks are inferior to asphalt Macadam paving (A bad idea) But, what if the paving blocks are seated atop the tar-mac? The Roman roads have lasted 2000 years, no tar. If the tar man hates blocks, he argues that the blocks will pump out pot-holes. Moral… Throw enough money at a bad idea ,,,,,,,,

  • XanderDeWijs

    Arguments Con
    1. the glass won’t stay clear, reducing efficiency or killing it
    2. there’s not enough metal in the world, perhaps not even enough glass.
    3. can’t be used in earthquake areas.
    4. busy roadways are too much covered by cars.
    Arguments Pro1. Thunderfoot is against it, he’s a moron, so maybe Solar Roadways ARE possible.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No name-calling.

      Deserved or not…

      • XanderDeWijs

        “moron” is an accurate description of him, but I’ve edited it. Happy?
        BTW thanks for telling us about walmart and its solar panel stuff. didn’t know that. Now, if only they would use their solar gains to pay their workers a living wage … be so awesome.

  • Mike Twofeathers

    lets see if it took 850,000 dollars to make 108 of them, how much would it cost to make enough for one mile of road? i imagine they must not be experienced much in solar generation, i can not even get that much energy out of 17 expensive panels compared to 17 of theirs which is smaller than mine. leds take power, almost a .5 watt! now they are talking hundreds in a square meter, i won’t even get into the heating elements that were brought up. i live off grid, i make my own power, and no way even with a mile of road can i achieve what they say they can achieve, especially in the winter when the sun is very much south. with out the extra panels i have i could not provide as much as i do for myself. i use the latest tech to make power with solar and the latest lithium batteries to store it as well. they lost me in the first 2 minutes of their video…..reading and seeing this, i see i am not the only one out there smart enough to know better than scammers trying for a buck to live on.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Now, see here Mike. There’s no room for common sense and facts in this discussion.

      You gotta believe.

      Just keep repeating “I do believe in faeries, I do! I do!”

      Oops, solar roadways, not faeries. Same-same but different….

  • BrokeGopher

    I see a lot of comments about how naysayers back in the day said we’d never get into space, or that we couldn’t survive traveling at 30 mph. Those may be true, but for each one of those that worked, there were also a thousand hair-brained ideas that the naysayers said wouldn’t work, and the naysayers were right.

    This is one of the majority of cases where the naysayers are right.

    If it were economically viable, every Walmart would have solar panels on its roof tomorrow. Regular rooftop panels don’t have a big enough payback yet, let alone ones with the additional challenge of having millions of tons of traffic drive on it. Time for a big dose of reality, people. You just paid these guys $2 million for making a cute sci-fi video.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Huh? All Walmarts (where they get some credit for electricity sent to the grid) have panels on their roofs right now.

      Walmarts, added up, are the largest solar farm in the US.

      I agree with the rest of what you’re saying.

  • Tim Smith

    It will create a lot of new jobs. Especially for sweepers to sweep debris off the highways as to not damage the glass.

    • XanderDeWijs

      new McStupid jobs.

  • Greg Campbell

    It’s all about cost.
    Conventional rooftop PV installs for around 4 dollars per watt. The technology is mature, reliable, cost-optimized, and very nearly maintenance-free. Even then, a roof PV system will take about a decade to reach payback, depending on climate and electric costs. By 5~6 dollars per watt, payback begins to become impossible.

    Brusaw want to take this same basic tech and super-harden it to the point that you can drive multi-ton trucks over it? Doing so will require rebuilding the entire roadbed, an extremely expensive proposition. Then add power distribution, etc. All this extra expense will drive the final installed-cost-per-watt through the freaking roof. $10 per watt? I don’t think so. Try 20? Maybe 50? Who knows.

    Even if you assume a zero percent loan and zero maintenance costs (an obvious impossibility for a high utilization roadway), the basic financing simply will not work. The payoff will literally stretch into multiple decades. The roadway will wear out and grind to dust LONG before reaching payback. And if you do try to maintain it, those costs, which will only grow as the system ages, will further delay payback. In practice, the power/income generated will NEVER be enough to build and maintain the system. As such, no bank on Earth will finance this boondoggle – banks aren’t in the habit of handing out billions of dollars with no hope of being repaid.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The proper comparison is with utility scale solar. Solarizing highways is definitely a utility scale project. Utility scale installed solar in the US has broken below $2/watt.

      • Mark R

        I disagree. You’re talking about a completely unconventional method of installation. Just the same as you have to differentiate between a ground-mounted utility scale system and one that requires parking canopies to be built in conjunction with a project, you have to account for the cost differential.

        There is no way that this would even come close to approaching the same cost parameters of a basic ground or roof-mounted solar setup, particularly since they plan on using custom designed panels which just further amps up the costs.

        Notice that they haven’t said a word about what sort of inverter setup they’d be using or how they’d be paying for all the additional high voltage lines that would be required for this to be remotely feasible.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You disagree with what? That utility scale solar is a more proper cost comparison than end-user rooftop? Or the cost of utility scale solar?

          • Mark R

            That utility scale solar pricing is a proper comparison for these proposed roadways. Maybe if we’re talking just the panels but even then, they claim that they will be manufacturing their own so who knows how that would go.

            Even if you get past that, the additional periphery and BOS costs would make this the most expensive form of solar installation that there is.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’re not agreeing here.

            The original idea was that it would make sense to install solar panels on highway surfaces. If we did that then the power would have to compete with utility scale solar.

            Then there are separate ideas-

            That a glass surface would be cheaper over a 20 year time frame than an asphalt surface.

            The idea that we should melt snow with electricity rather than plow/salt it away.

            And the idea that putting LEDs in the road (everywhere) rather than over the road where needed makes sense.

    • Mark R

      “Conventional rooftop PV installs for around 4 dollars per watt.”

      In progressively more places you’re under $3.00 a watt even, which means that this whole project would make even less sense, especially if people consider that panels are never installed laying flat but instead placed at an angle to maximize output.

  • Abbadabaddodoo

    My favorite part of this idea is how it will create a bunch of ground glass dust and anybody living near heavily used roadways will likely develop silicosis and eventually lead to numerous deaths.

    • XanderDeWijs

      agreed. didn’t even think of that. It might work if there was some material that had the same properties of asphalt, but was still somehow so light sensitive that it could function as a solar panel.

  • Pieter Siegers

    This idea simply won’t ever make it to the planned market. It is completely ignoring the reality.

  • Andriana Mavrotheri

    Take a look please

  • LW

    As a qualified electronics and power engineer, I can vouch for the accuracy of ThunderfOOt’s video. It’s highly educational. Sorry to disappoint those taken up by the hype of solar roadways

  • Lionel Vogt

    Here is something you cannot deny or debunk . Lets look at the fact that tires loose rubber (unravel at a few microns per rotation) onto the road surface. Yo may notice the darker “rut lines” next time you are on the roadway. about 70-80% of that is carbon and rubber deposited there. Here is the rough calculation per revolution on a typical automotive tire. This will be a very rough estimate but it is a fascinating question.

    The wear will depend on how the car is driven, road conditions, braking, make of tyre etc. but roughly car tyres wear down by about 6 mm over 20 000 miles of driving.

    My car tyres have a radius of about 0.6 m and a width of 0.15 m and so for 0.006 m (6 mm) of rubber to wear off them they must have lost 0.0017 cubic metres of rubber.

    The density of rubber is a little less than water (to test this will a car tyre float in water? If yes then its density is less than water). Lets say 950 kg/cubic metre.

    So the mass of rubber worn away = 0.0017×950 = 1.62 kg

    Each molecule of rubber (assuming that the tyres are pure rubber) is a chain molecule of many units, each unit is 5 carbons and 8 hydrogens. Therefore 60/68 of the mass is carbon.

    Therefore 1.6×60/68 = 1.4118 kg is carbon.

    The mass of a carbon atom is 12×1.6×10-27 kg = 1.92×10-26 kg So the number of carbon atoms rubbed off is 1.4118/1.92×10-26 = 7.35×1025 atoms

    The circumference of the tyre is 1.9 m and therefore in travelling 20 000 miles (or 32 000 km = 32 000 000) they will have rotated 32 000 000/1.9 = almost 17 million times!

    Therefore in one rotation the tyre will lose 7.35×1025/17 million = 4.3×1018 carbon atoms.

    Roughly 4 million million million carbon atoms will be rubbed off every rotation!

    This is a very rough estimate that all depends on my guess as to molecular weight and structure of the rubber used in car tyres. Actually it is even worse because tyres are made of 28% carbon black, 27% synthetic polymer, 14% natural rubber, 10% wire, 10% oil, and 11% other materials.

    And that is just ONE TIRE on one car on the road for 20,000 miles, Not to mention the oil , exhaust particulates and dirt and crap that comes off of cars. Asphalt for the most poin does absorb some of fluid portions of it and so does concrete. What does glass do ? OH right . if there is any oil on the road it is “JUST GOING TO SIT ON TOP OF IT”

    Now put your solar cell under all of the cruft and rubber and dirt, THEN try and stop you car on oil , rubber and carbon covered glass.. Good luck

    It is a scam, a well thought out purposeful scam.

    • XanderDeWijs

      wow. a bunch of calculations with NO ACTUAL POINT to make …. other than SOME REALLY USELESS conspiracy theory.

  • Leslie Graham

    The surface grip outperforms tarmac even when wet

    • John

      The coefficients of kinetic friction for asphalt is 0.8 while glass is around 0.7 Adding a thin-layer of water will further reduce these coefficients, therefore increasing a car’s stopping distance as well as the likelihood of skidding. Moreover, glass has a Mohs hardness factor of 5.5 whereas quartz is around 6-7. This will cause the glass to scratch, not only reducing its ability to trap light, but also reduces its traction.

      • Kuari

        Glass is capable of reaching the 6-7 range, even higher actually. 5.5 is just the average everyday window. Wikipedia is not a source that should be used on its own. It gives you a baseline starting point, but it leaves out a lot of details

        • muddmike

          Since you don’t seem to believe anyone except the solar roads people, here is a quote from their muddying the freakin’ water page:

          “One more thing: When you temper glass, it becomes 4-5 times stronger than the non-tempered glass listed in mohs hardness scale (it doesn’t make it harder – just stronger).”

          • Kuari

            Yet I didn’t get my information on the hardness of glass from them. I actually looked at outside sources besides wikipedia. There are different compositions of material that glass can be made with. There are even metallic glass composites that are incredible hard. The problem with most of the metallic ones is they lose a lot of transparency, however that is just an example.

            There’s a difference between believing only one source and refusing to believe Wikipedia as gospel without looking beyond it. I like Wikipedia as a starting point, but there are reasons its not considered a legitimate source by most schools and colleges. Its not because of the occaisonal troll either. Its because its often incomplete.

          • muddmike

            As you said, while some matal-glass composites might be hard enough to avoid scratching and might even be durable enough, they fail the transparency requirement.

            Maybe sometime in the distant future when there is a breakthrough that
            enables them to produce durable, scratch-proof, transparent panels for $5 each, and
            they can buy 50% efficient solar cells for $5 that don’t lose their efficiency
            when hot,this plan MIGHT be marginally effective. Until them, it is a
            disaster that will just be a money pit.

            Even with the advances listed above, you still have the problem of fitting flat panels to hills, which will leave edges of the panels exposed. Also, they will be problems sealing up the glass to steel joint. Differential expansion and contraction due to temperature changes, the vibration, stopping, starting and turning forces, and UV light will work to destroy any sealing material between the glass and steel. Rust of the steel could also undermine the seal.

            There are just too many problems with this plan to work in the near future (20 years).

          • Kuari

            As I said, it was an example. Let me use another example that does meet the transparency requirement: Quartz. Marked as a 7 in the mohs hardness, and it is in fact used as a material for glass at times.

            Also a certain irony… remember how in one of the Star Trek movies there was mention of transparent aluminum? We actually have that. Its something that’s happened recently called aluminum oxynitride. Transparent, though perhaps a bit too reflective. The point is, there being something like what they describe is NOT farfetched. It would be a lot easier to confirm if they actually stated would glass composition they were using though.

            Regardless though, even if the road aspect isn’t viable in the near future (which again, remember, that isn’t going to be their first focus, that’s their long term vision. Long term goal. New tech rarely matches up exactly to its inventors visions) its still valuable for other purposes if they make a proof of concept. Hail damage for example is a common reason for some areas not using many solar panels. Presenting a way around that for minimal energy loss can prove valuable. Sidewalks they will go under less strain, and honestly?

            There’s a problem with sidewalk maintenance in some areas in the winter. It gets completely neglected creating just sheets of ice that are dangerous for people that rely on them. If they can get these to work at that level at least where its affordable, well, it could work. Even if its not there yet, there’s no harm in seeing how far they actually do take it. Could end up with some surprising results.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Quartz glass, fused quartz, runs 5.5–6.5 on Mohs’ Scale according to this site.


            Looks like it’s more difficult to manufacture which makes the price higher.

          • muddmike

            To second Bob’s comment. Quartz crystal can only be found in nature. You are not going to find crystals large enough for the windows, that are also transparent and flaw free in nature. Crystalline quartz is formed by incredibly slow cooling of molten quartz, on the order of 1 degree every 100,000 years. Quartz sheets the size of these panels would easily shatter, because crystalline materials are brittle

            As Bob says below fused quartz is molten silicon dioxide cooled at a reasonable rate so it is amorphous, and thus is softer. Because it has to be heated harder to soften, fused quartz is very expensive. Scientific ware made of quartz costs more than twice what equivalent glass items do.

          • Kuari

            I know how quartz is made and such, no need to tell me that, nor am I suggesting they use that. There’s only one point I’ve been trying to make with all this: Not all glass is the same. There is a vast variety of compositions. Just the fact that it reaches up to 6.5 hardness on the high end is a plus. Its why I’m more interested in learning the composition of the glass they’re currently using rather then saying “oh, it can’t handle the requirements”.

            Also without knowing the composition, we don’t know the process required to create it, thus can’t calculate the cost of production (which is the important cost, not what some random glass panel is sold for).

            That’s the question that should be asked if you’re going to ask questions. See, when you try to present something as flat out impossible like Thunderf00t is in this video, you halt the conversation into a childness “yes it is”/”no it isn’t” type argument. If the question all the skeptics asked was instead “what is the composition of the glass made and what’s the process to make such glass. Also why isn’t it used more regularly today for windshields and the like given the problems that cracks cause if its so great.”

            To have a conversation you need to actually go into the nitty gritty obscure details. If they were going with quartz glass, I’d agree that yeah, that’s way to expensive. Did they figure out how to make a tougher glass with the high end of quartz glass hardness, or is this a material that’s been around for a while that some reason hasn’t gotten attention for some reason (which does sometimes happen)? That’s the kind of conversation I think we should be happening.

            Instead of stomping our feet and yelling “IMPOSSIBLE”, the details need to be talked out first. Lets face it though, that isn’t what the skeptics are doing and certainly not what Thunderf00t has done here. He took the most basic of information and clearly didn’t look beyond that.

            I mean, hell, lets assume for a moment that making 6.5 level hardness quartz glass was easy and cheap? Would it still have the problems of 5.5 or lower glass? What’s the hardness of the materials in normal sand, dirt, and the like that’d normally cause scratches, or in the scratch test he did recently, the hardness of the materials mixed with the asphalt goop that scratch the glass coffee pot?

            I mean am I totally out of line here? I’m certainly not saying cost wouldn’t be a potential issue, I want the actual details though and I don’t see many people actually asking for them rather than jumping to conclusions.

          • muddmike

            If any new product is just as hard as quartz, then sand will still scratch it. After all diamond can cut diamonds. The glass they are now using is standard tempered glass, which is mostly quartz, but with added metal oxides to lower the melting point. The main oxides used are sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, aluminum, and iron. Though glass for solar panels will be lacking the iron, since that tends to reduce the transparency.

            Sand, or quartz has a hardness of 7 on the mohs scale. Anything that hard or softer woiuld scratch with sand, though the harder it is, the slower it will scratch.

            Gorilla glass, in various forms is made by Corning. This glass is not thermally tempered, but is strengthened by dipping the glass into a molten salt bath, usually a potassium salt. The glass surface is put in compression by the potassium ions replacing smaller sodium ions. This also hardens the surface somewhat, though not enough to resist scratching by sand. This is a more expensive process than thermal tempering.

            Sometime in the future someone may develop a glass with a surface harder than sand, but that would take a breakthrough. Breakthroughs cannot be planned for with any reliability. It could happen tomorrow, or it might take 50 or more years.

            The biggest problem I see is that this product requires the glass to be affordable, strong, transparent and durable. Until that breakthrough comes, they do not have a viable product. Even if the glass is developed, why would anyone want to spend a premium for a panels that will produce less electricity than existing rooftop panels.

            The solar road people are claiming that they have a viable product without the glass having been tested for durability. They claim a 20+ year lifetime based only upon the lifetime of solar cells that are not under the stresses the road panels would be. There are many failure modes for their panels that could also limit the lifetimes. If these panels are ever going to come close to paying for themselves, they are going to need to last a long time. It is unlikely that they ever will.

    • muddmike

      Their surface grip tests were performed with brand new panels. The bumps that provide the traction will be the first things to wear down. Once they are worn away the traction will be gone, particularly when wet.

    • Mark R

      Brand-spanking new? Sure. Now let it take a beatdown for a couple of months from millions of tons of vehicles crossing over, again and again, then get back to me.

  • Bullfrog

    Scamming people out of money. Where are the surface
    test results? That’s the elephant in the room. Wear
    tests are standard in many industries and dirt cheap to perform. But to
    reveal those results would kill the funding. They’ve been at this since 2009-2010 so they’re obviously hiding that instead of “just haven’t gotten around to it.”

    After 50+ years of solar voltaic research and development we still can’t even put solar panels on houses cost effectively. Roads? Yeah let’s figure out how to do it on houses and buildings first. You’ll know the technology is ready and cost-effective when you see them on almost every building. Until then let’s not lie to ourselves.

    • muddmike

      Right on! Though I am not so sure they are scammers. They may just be really stupid engineers. The main guy is an electrical engineer, who apparently has no clue about materials.

      Also, they made the system so complicated. It has solar cells, a heater, an inverter, processor(s), sensors and LEDs. These will be exposed to temperature extremes and massive vibration. If any of those systems fails, or the glass or seals are compromised, the whole panel must be replaced. Since they are supposedly sealed systems, repair is not a viable option. If 1 out of 1,000 lasts even 10 years, I would be amazed.

      It takes any person with scientific and technical knowledge a few minutes to discover the massive problems in this system.

      However, their website is filled with many deceptive comments and videos that could fooled the science and technological illiterates that fill the world. It is a shame that these level of technical literacy is so low.

      For most of those people sending money, this plan is magic that will solve all of their problems so they can continue living their wasteful consumer lives. As long as they can continue buying new cool stuff, they will be happy.

      That is until it is time to pay the piper.

      • Lionel Vogt

        I blame the schools really, Critical thinking of claims , even if you are not an engineer should be a major component of it.

        But I suppose If we did , there would be less of this kind of scam running around and fewer happy consumers.

      • Mark R

        However, their website is filled with many deceptive comments
        and videos that could fooled the science and technological illiterates
        that fill the world. It is a shame that these level of technical
        literacy is so low.”

        You can identify them with their standard response of “DUDE, look at the FAQ, all the questions are answered there.”

        Yet the FAQ is incredibly evasive and vague, I have to believe that the Brusaws realize the many issues with their design and are simply hoping to wing it and keep the cash rolling in until they can have some sort of “breakthrough”…..either that or collecting retirement money.

  • Randal Phillips

    Every big step forward has been met with naysayers and the eh, it’ll never work, crowd. I see some of the same drawbacks, but nothing that can’t find a work around or a tech thru. Let em give it a shot. Maybe, if they give Obama a cut, he’ll even make the EPA and whatever other agencies, lay off so they have a chance to make it work.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” Maybe, if they give Obama a cut, he’ll even make the EPA and whatever other agencies, lay off so they have a chance to make it work.”

      That’s the most whack-a-doodle comment I’ve seen all week.

      • Kuari

        He’s not wrong in the idea that the vast majority of big politicians take some form of bribe (campaign funding/lobbyists), but yeah, doesn’t quite work like that, nor is it just Obama or Democrats (or Republicans for those who want to go the opposite way). I really should see if I can get my report on the subject published… if I can find it again. It’s a pretty ugly picture when you look into it closely. Though I suppose that isn’t really the subject at hand here.

      • Randal Phillips

        You should read more erudite postings. One a week is not nearly enough.

        • Bob_Wallace

          It’s been over a week since your previous submission.

          That gives you a good chance at the most whack-a-doodle comment award for this week.

          • Randal Phillips

            Does anyone else here a Jackass braying?

  • Scott Larson

    for areas that see less sun light due to weather as opposed to sun paths; won’t the savings in sand/salt use on the roads be drastically cut if not put at zero from the heated roads? Won’t that have a benefit in the area? Even if the panels are only 10% efficient in that area, isn’t that better than the 0% efficiency of asphalt.

    • Mark R

      “isn’t that better than the 0% efficiency of asphalt.”

      No, not at all, not if that means spending 10 times as much for something that will never pay for itself, to the contrary, based on the amount of power you need for the heating elements/LED’s…etc, you could see this setup pulling more power from the grid than it produces, becoming a further drain on the electrical grid.

      • Bob_Wallace

        How much value would there be in having LEDs in the road surface? This part seems to be hype to me.

        The very few places that need to provide changing information can do what we’re now doing. Hang a sign where drivers can see it. Not underneath the cars in front.

        • Paul

          this is one of the major things that bother me.. I mean WHY LED’s? You could easily just draw a line on the panel. the cost of LED’s plus the energy drain is enough to boggle my mind.
          You’re already expecting to lose major amounts through people being parked on top of these things for hours, why not try to put the lines on the parts that support the glass surface.

  • yoyoda67

    In order to develop a new idea it is important to keep an open mind and not shoot down new ideas too quickly. By crowd sourcing we can combine new concepts and new thinking to solve problems. How about combining Mag-Lev technology with Solar Roads?

  • shecky vegas

    The idea should definitely be tested out. The first flaw I see is the use of glass. Perhaps some kind of polyurethane compound.

    • Bob_Wallace

      What transparent/translucent substance do we have that won’t be ground/scratched by sand/gravel between surface and tires?

      What would maintain its ability to transmit light after being run over for a couple of years with tire studs and chains?

      What would be the expense of keeping these surfaces free enough of road dirt (including oil, tar and tire marks from rapid breaking) so that they could produce electricity?

      • Kuari

        Over years? None.. but asphalt doesn’t exactly last years either. Honestly, its not the normal driving I’m worried about, I imagine a tempered glass material can handle that with ease. Its not the snow and ice I’m worried about, the heating element can handle that (guy didn’t take into account that it takes a lot less energy to melt the snow as it accumulates rather than a whole batch at once… hell, we have heated asphalt driveways that work on this concept), though even the makers admitted it likely won’t be efficient in the northern-most regions (think northern Midwest, Canada, Alaska, etc).

        What worries me is some asshole taking a sledgehammer to it, screeching their tires, doing things that cause an abnormal strain to the road… worst case? They start with sidewalks and driveways as their intention and it becomes the property owner’s responsibility to keep them clean as current sidewalk laws, with actual enforcement and fines.

        • muddmike

          It still takes the same amount of energy to melt snow slowly as it does to melt it quickly. It takes 336 kjoules/gram to melt any form of ice. I calculated that the minimum amount of energy to melt a single 8 inch snowfall on 1 mile of two lane road is 22,000 kilowatt hours. That is more than the amount I use at home in 4 years. In practice, the amount of enrgy may be twice that, because heat will be lost to the air and ground. It won’t be usable any place north of the Mason-Dixon line.

          On their site, they list the hardness of materials and quartz is shown to be harder than glass. Sand is quartz, so I wet my fingers, dipped them in some sand, and rubbed a glass bottle for about a minute. The area I rubbed was totally frosted glass. This will happen to their glass panels with any sand or rocks present. Tire rubber also contains silica, which is sine sand. See:

          Thus any time a tire crosses a panel it will slowly grind away at the nonskid surface and make the glass frosted. The rough surface will scatted both incoming light, reducing the output, and the outgoing light from the LEDs, making them less visible. Tempered glass also gets its strength from the surface being stressed. When you scratch this, you weaken the glass.

          They did a terrible job of engineering design. Since the whole system depends upon the glass surface lasting the 20 years they claim, they should have tested that first. If that is not effective, then all of the effort on the electronics is wasted.

          Just standard driving, starting, stopping and turning will mess up this system. The occasional panic stop will do even more damage. Nobody needs to go out of their way to damage the glass and related parts.

          • muddmike

            Correction, that is joules/gram, not KILOjoules. For those no familiar a joule is a watt-second. Thus 336 joules is 336 watts for a second, or 1 watt for 336 seconds.

          • Macc

            Actually, it takes less energy to melt the snow quickly. If you do it slowly that means you spend more time keeping the road above the temperature of the environment, so the energy losses will be higher.

          • muddmike

            I made the calculation of the minimum amount of energy needed, assuming 100% transfer of the heat to the snow. In real situations the amount of energy transferred to the air and ground will differ, depending upon air temperature and wind. Also, some of the energy will be lost to evaporation of the melted snow. The heat of vaporization of water is about 2200 joules/gram, about 7 times the heat of fusion.

            They also have a system that limits the heat transfer to the snow on the road. The heater has to be under the circuit board, or it will block light to the solar cells. This means the heaters have to heat the plastic circuit board, which heats the solar cells, which then heat the air above them, which then heat the bottom of the half inch glass, and finally the heat has to ravel through the glass to get to the surface to melt the snow. Glass is not known to be a good conductor of heat.

            In the winter, even in during the day, the roads in the south will only produce about as much electricity as is being used there, so there will be no excess for melting snow, and even if there was excess electricity, transmitting it hundreds of miles would entail huge loses. Thus those roads would need to be heated by electricity generated by burning fossil or nuclear fuels.

            I made a rough guess at melting the snow in Pennsylvania in a typical winter with 30 inches of snowfall. My best estimate ranges from 2 to 10 billion. It might even be more since I couldn’t even begin to estimate the melting of snow that drifts onto cleaned surfaces. In tougher climates this number would be much larger.

            If the snow falls rapidly, the first snow will melt and cool the surface of the glass to freezing temperatures, and further snow, if it is below the freezing temperature of water (which it often is) will freeze the water and make the surface glare ice.

        • Bob_Wallace

          At least you’re recognizing that there are unsolved questions, which some of the advocates don’t.

          It would be simple to install a large piece of tempered glass (whatever) in a parking lot and let people drive over it a year or two. That is basic research these people should have done.

          Or pay a modest amount of money to a materials engineer to determine if there is an appropriate top material.

          (Remember, one of the talking points used is that repair would be far less frequent than with asphalt.)

          • Kuari

            Sounds like they’ve actually done something along those lines:
            Keep in mind, this project is actually something that’s been in progress for a while, its just recently been reaching the public eye.

            As for how I figure melting as it accumulates being easier than all at once, I came to that conclusion based on one thing: volume. If I’m remembering my thermodynamics correctly, increasing the volume increases the needed energy on a curve, but this assumes that volume is all present at the same time, which affects it significantly.

            Regardless, with the right sensors, such a system wouldn’t need to run at all times… with the right sort of energy storage, its plausible that much of the energy can come from the solar panels themselves, even during the winter. This is a part though where energy calculations need to be made and needs to be combined with the yearly cost of accidents caused by ice, gas prices, cost of the salt (which believe me when I say cities often get overcharged on poorer quality salt then what you can get at Walmart), etc. Who knows, maybe it IS pricier, but you definitely need more than just the power consumption number he gives.

            But yeah, I do recognize there are some unsolved questions, largely due to things we have yet to actually see for ourselves, but at the same time I’ve been following it pretty closely since I heard about it, since I think this combined with requiring new construction to be built with solar paneling where possible as well as perhaps a few wind turbines if feasible as well would only lead to good things. The latter definitely, the former depends once they can actually put the plan in action and prove it in a real world situation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “with the right sort of energy storage, its plausible that much of the energy can come from the solar panels themselves, even during the winter”
            “perhaps a few wind turbines”

            You’re adding additional complexity and cost in an attempt to make an already complex system work.

            Let’s look at one aspect of this overall system. If heated highways are cheaper than clearing snow, salt and accidents, why aren’t we already heating highways?

          • Kuari

            Uhh, no, the wind turbine bit was in reference to the new construction bit. Two different systems that I think both should be used. One system has nothing to do with the other, I just think expanding the clean energy market as far as possible is a good thing. The energy storage on the other hand, is something that will NEED to be added for it to work, else you’re wasting energy and won’t be able to do all the fancy stuff with in it. I guarantee that its something they already have planned in the system if they expect it to actually produce the energy needed.

            As for the reasons why it wouldn’t be used, several plausible reasons:

            Red tape is one… even the best projects can often be stopped or made terrible by red tape. Dragonskin body armor was an example of this, passing every test… except the one ran by someone who literally worked for the other body armor company. Sounds suspicious, doesn’t it?

            Infrastructure changes being required. Sometimes even if a system will be cheaper in the long run, paying the lump sum required at the beginning makes a lot of people nervous.

            Current systems just aren’t good enough. This is a biggy. Often enough the available systems at the time just aren’t good enough to do what is required, however people often take this as FUTURE systems never being able to be good enough even if proven wrong which leads to people being resistant to any sort of change when a new system is developed. So even when that new system that works is developed, people remember the old systems and don’t believe in it.

            Risk. Sometimes unforeseen issues come up that can kill a project even if they are easily fixed. This makes business owners and politicians nervous. They don’t want to be the ones held responsible if something goes wrong, no matter how low chance of it happening.

            So yeah, there’s a lot of potential reasons. Its also a similar reason to why fiber optic internet isn’t big yet despite millions of dollars going to ISPs to pick up the pace on it. They know it works, they know it can be done cheaply, they know people want it, they just don’t want to pay that initial cost and use their lobbyists to push bills that prevent others from doing so to protect their business.

  • Ronald Brakels

    There are plenty of people around who are willing to critique solar roadways, so I suggest all Cleantechnica contributers say far away from Thunderf00t and never link to him again for several reasons, among them being his videos: “”Feminism versus FACTS”, “‘Feminism’ is poisoning Atheism”, and “Why ‘feminism’ poisons
    EVERYTHING”. Unless he changes his behaviour I don’t think we should give any attention to a person who promotes bigotry.

    • bender220

      So because he makes videos critiquing fascist feminist groups/organizations you wish to ignore legitimate videos by a real research scientist about flaws in this asinine solar roadways idea. Next time how about you explain something actually wrong with the critique instead of ignorantly calling him a bigot which amounts to nothing more than an ad hominem attack.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Firstly, yes, I think we should ignore his videos. Secondly, I did not ignorantly call him a bigot. I did some research and concluded that he promotes bigotry. Whether or not he is a bigot is not something I gave an opinion on.

        • Mitchell Taco Nash

          You know, his arguments should stand on their own merit. If a xenophobic, racist, bigot said these arguments [I don’t think Thunderf00t is any of these], the arguments would still stand.

          Your argument seems to be that we should find someone else to debunk these claims, but Thunderf00t has done such a fine job showing just why a few of these claims, not even addressing some of the more outlandish claims they’ve made, are utter bollocks. He did it in a rather extensive and lengthy video, too, and showing calculations, charts, animations, etc.

          I don’t agree with your stance, but if you know any better sources that debunk solar roadways like Thunderf00t, then I would personally like to see them. :)

          To end, I can understand why you don’t want to support someone who you disagree with on other topics, but that doesn’t undermine what he says about solar roadways.

          • Arto Pekkanen

            I do not understand. Why should we accept the position of disagreeing with another by principle just because they do not share same worldview? This kind of mental weakness is insane. If Ronald chooses to disagree with TF just because he disagress with him on other matters, we should criticize his position until he either goes away or admits his idiocy and accepts the rules of a civil debate.

          • Mitchell Taco Nash

            Such are the faults in being human. ;)

        • Kuari

          While there are a good many counters to the vast majority of his arguments, ideas need to stand on their own. A good idea from a terrible person has no more or less value then if that idea came from a saint. Ideas must stand on their own, regardless of their source or you hinder progress.

          Though I would like to get into some of the problems he brought up: The boot test for example. He ignored there were also seperate stopping tests involving stopping at a required distance at 40 MPH and 80 MPH. At that point he had no argument about traction unless he went in and proved it himself. The words of an outside observer have no meaning compared to that of those who do these kinds of tests for a living, and they’d VERY much speak up if these results were falsified.

          The cost argument involving the glass AND the crushed glass.. a lot of the cost for a specialized glass panel comes not from the material, but from being a specialty item. Something used in such small quantities that it isn’t really mass produced. This can drive the price up 10-20 fold, and in fact, a similar amount of normal glass is exactly that much cheaper. As for the crushed glass, often it needs to be sorted and there are methods of doing that that are in fact used by some plants.

          I’m not entirely sure how they are going to get around the power grid stuff, but it seems like part of the idea is to store the power for when its needed (making the days where there’s a lack of sun meaningless) and transport power to areas near the roadways themselves. I’m not an electrician, so the details are lost on me at the moment, and even if I was, there’s always the possibility that they knew something I didn’t.

          The paneling style… there are some cities that use bricks for certain roads. They tend to be pretty well maintained with the bricks able to be replaced quickly when needed to be frank and NOT have to close down the whole road.

          Look, I’m not saying with certainty that the idea will work, but there’s clearly A LOT he hasn’t taken into consideration and seems to forget rule #1 of invention and innovation… never tell yourself something is impossible. When you start thinking something is impossible, the idea is already dead. Every idea started with people thinking “this is impossible” and then someone thinking “hmm… I wonder if I could do it if I did this? No? How about this?” Or an accident. Point is, you close your mind to a lot of facts when you decide it can’t be done.

          • muddmike

            The cost for the glass used was just for standard tempered glass, as far as I know. This cost is likely to decrease, because the tempered glass industry is a mature industry, which already is automated to a large extent. New factories would have to be built, but they are not likely to be much more efficient than existing plants. Making tempered glass is a very energy intensive process and requires a large amount of natural gas. I have seen people talking about building solar concentrators such as the French solar furnace in the Pyrenees mountains, but these only work on sunny days for a few hours per day, since they cool down at night and have to heat up each morning. This also only heats the area of a cooking part, so you won’t be able to make much glass.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think you mean –

            “This cost is likely to decrease, because the tempered glass industry is a mature industry….”

          • muddmike

            You are correct. Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, the cost is NOT likely to decrease by much.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Good comments, BTW.

          • Kuari

            I want to know where he got his pricing then, because standard tempered glass is nowhere NEAR the price he speculated. Not even in the same ballpark. Even many forms of bulletproof glass are half that price.

          • Arto Pekkanen

            Your arguments are gold.

          • dongle92

            “While there are a good many counters”

            There are no good counters because the solar roadways idea is complete rubbish.

          • Kuari

            For a fan of Thunderf00t, you seem to like to use the creationist method a lot. Conclusions require evidence. They require complete evidence. So you can either counter the counter-arguments, or you can be a hypocrite. Up to you.

    • Guest

      You can’t be serious. If you don’t agree with those topics, fine but don’t expect others to “white knight” with you.

      • Ronald Brakels

        I am completely serious. And this is what humans do. They share information and let others know if there is someone they may not wish to associate with.

        • muddmike

          I find many of his views to be repulsive, but his comments on the solar roads seem valid. I have also seen climate change deniers also being against this idea, but many of their arguments about the technology are still valid, even though I do not agree with their climate stance.

          I would not consider having dinner with Thunderf00t, but his technical knowledge is still valid.

    • Greg Campbell

      While many people seem to agree that TF is a somewhat abrasive fellow, this observation does not in any way invalidate the many valid points he raises in his critique of SFR. “Just the facts, Ma’am.”

    • Mark R

      I could care less what his personal or political beliefs are. None are relevant whatsoever in this discussion. All you’re doing is throwing up a random strawman that is utterly meaningless. Either stay on topic or take this elsewhere.

      • Ronald Brakels

        I have not commented on the content of this video and so I have not
        misrepresented his views with a strawman arguement. What I have done is suggest that people not link to Thunderf00t for reasons that have nothing to do with solar roadways as an explicit form of social opprobrium.

        • Arto Pekkanen

          Your “social opprobrium” is bullshit that wastes everybody’s time and patience. We are not here to engage in social justice flame war, we are here to discuss the technical gotchas of projects like Solar Roadways. Either contribute to the discussion or shut up! People like you ruin every serious discussion you take part in.

          • Ronald Brakels

            What I have done is provide people with some information that they can act on or not act on as they see fit. If that ruins the serious discussion for you perhaps you should toughen up, Buttercup.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Ronald is one of the most valuable contributors to this site.

            He did go a bit off topic in pointing out that Thunderf00t is someone who most of us would shun. But he knows this community and was bringing something that he thought important to the discussion.

            Since you have commented only on this topic I’m not seeing that you “are here to discuss the technical …”. Perhaps you’d like to restrict your input to on topic matters?

    • voxullus

      At the very first instance when speaking out against politically correct taboos generates a knee-jerk reaction from any person or community to ban, boycott and shun the speaker regardless of merit, we have an moral obligation to counter such reactionary dogmatism’s.
      I think that your stance on when, why and how “we” should actually give anybody attention or not regardless of subject matter is much more malicious and bigoted than anything I have read by Thunderf00t on the subject of feminism.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Well, yes, I am forced to conceed that suggesting we ignore someone who promotes bigotry on the internet is far more bigoted than actually promoting bigotry.

        • voxullus

          I would perhaps be more gracious to simply agree that, in civil discourse, we simply argue on the basis of the topical argument and its merit and not any other random arbitrary subject that you may have different opinions on with that other party.

    • guest

      Thunderf00t’s videos with ‘feminism’ in their title, are about certain people undermining feminism and equality. they uncover how hypocritical and stupid those people are.

      and if you claim that those videos are reason to avoid all other Thunderf00t’s videos, then i doubt your intelligence

  • Kuari

    Most of the points he brought up were answered prior to the video, particularly about traction (and how they in fact had too much traction at one point)

    • dongle92

      Tempered glass is not some magical substance that can dramatically change after some Dark Magic juju.

      Tempered glass will wear down very, very quickly, quickly becoming far worse than Tarmac even if it is, by some miracle, better than Tarmac in the first place.

      And that is if the tempered glass isn’t shattered instantly by a tiny pebble.

      Then there is the fact that tiles are a horrible thing to use to build roads, as the rocking motion due to their rigidity will work them loose.

      And then there is the fact that the cost of the glass alone would be 20 TRILLION dollars.

      amongst other things.

      • Kuari

        Already covered the cost in another post. One you responded to. One that addressed how even bulletproof glass, which is a glass composite isn’t even half the price he describes. He literally seemed to purposely find the most overpriced example.

        Also there is nothing magic about it. Assuming all glass is the same hardness is like assuming all steel is the same hardness. There is the issue of composition. Are hell, all carbon.

        Hell, both of those are related. In steel, and carbon in general, the strength of the bond has an effect on both strength and hardness. Pencil lead and diamond are the same element, but you wouldn’t dare say they are the same hardness, would you? They are the same material essentially when you get down to it, but in the case of diamond, the atomic bond is stronger and the carbon is more compressed. Hell, we are LITERALLY able to turn human hair into something very closely resembling a natural diamond, yet do you honestly believe that they are of the same hardness?

        Granted, the hair to diamond process is very expensive, but still. You can’t take information on one form of a material and apply it to ALL forms.

  • Deep Time

    Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.

  • Omega Centauri

    I just can’t see it becoming practical. Why would this work better than overhead solar canopies for roadways and parking lots? Or simple groundmounts? It has to actually be cheaper than the alternatives -or close enough that we can let esthetics ovrride economics.

    • Promontorium

      No it doesn’t. It merely has to be able to pay for itself. Everyone gets all these ridiculous demands about what it must accomplish or it’s a complete bust. Not so. If it pays for itself, then it’s viable. The question is can; it replace a stretch of road and be profitable? If so, then other complaints are irrelevant.

      An over head solar system would NOT be practical or even viable for long stretches of road, it would have to be constructed higher than any vehicle’s overhead clearance, it would have to have a massive frame structure built to hold it up, it would require more maintenance, and if even a couple support beams get knocked down, it could collapse on vehicles. Besides do you really want to promote canopies on all roadways to cover them in solar panels?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Standard highway clearance is around 14′.

        The total weight of solar panels is not great, nothing like a bridge. There would be a wind force issue.

        An overhead system could be designed so that a couple uprights could be sheered off with the structure collapsing.

        Covering road ways in really hot areas might be welcomed by drivers. It could make bumper to bumper commutes less painful.

        All that said, we’re probably better off putting panels on roofs, over parking lots, and over brownfields/landfills.

        Looks like these people have enough money now to let some others get into the process and produce better data. I’m very skeptical, but if they can prove that their system is a better approach then someone will step up and finance installations.

  • Jacques

    They’re not raising these funds to roll out solar roadways to the entire country. They’re raising funds to hire a team that will continue to test their product and manufacturing capacity. I definitely don’t think they have it all figured out, but they’re taking steps to see if things are viable. I really liked watching your video, but I also strongly believe that innovation comes from people questioning the status quo and testing new ideas.

    • muddmike

      They have either skipped, or hidden the results of the first test they should have done, which was to see how the glass held up to traffic. It will scratch, and the traction portion will wear down. This will dramatically reduce the electrical output and make the panels slippery, particularly in wet weather.

      Their estimates of how much power the panels could generate in a normal road situation are VERY optimistic. Also, if they were accurate, on sunny spring days they would be producing at least 10 times as much electricity as was needed at the time. Nobody is even close to developing a reliable, cost-effective, and efficient electrical energy storage system that could handle that kind of power.

      The first hint that there is something seriously wrong was the widely optimistic claims of the web site. They are trying to do way to much.

      • Bob_Wallace

        They should have first done surface material testing. This is the sort of thing that can be done with very small pieces of materials in a lab for not much money. They probably could have contacted manufactures and found out what they needed to know, picked the best candidates, and tested them.
        If they proved out a material which wouldn’t scratch nor lose its traction abilities then they should have made one demonstration panel and put it through a winter of testing. Just get some real world numbers on power produced and ability to keep itself ice free.

        Building a parking space full of panels was an inappropriate step before the basics are determined.

        People should ask for transparency before contributing money. No money should be going to the developers at this point.

        • muddmike

          Unfortunately many people seem to think science and technology are magic and will solve all of their problems. They prefer this to the real situation, which will require all of us to step back from our wasteful consumer lifestyle. The suburban sprawl of McMansions must end.

          Not only is there a lack of transparency, but some deceptive stuff on their site. For one, the video of the couple shoveling mixed color glass into a wheelbarrow, which they now admit it cannot be used to make the glass panels.

          They also realize that the panels are going to get very hot in the sun, since they list that the electronic components are rated to 125 C. They did not mention how this temperature will affect the efficiency of the solar cells. I could only find data up to 50 C, at which point the efficiency is only 75% of that at 25 C. I don’t know if anyone has tested standard cells at this high a temperature. Panels on roofs normally are raised to allow air to cool the panels from the back.

          Their FAQ section is filled with smoke and mirrors and nonanswers to the questions raised.

          • Mark R

            “Their FAQ section is filled with smoke and mirrors and nonanswers to the questions raised.”

            Thank you. It’s mind-boggling how many don’t see that.

        • Leslie Graham

          They HAVE ‘already done surface material testing’ or rather the Department of Transport have – and guess what – it outperforms tarmac even when wet.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How do the optical properties hold up over time? Over months/years of having the surface ground by quartz, a harder substance?

          • renegadexiii

            That’s part of the reason that they were doing this fundraising campaign. The funds are going to be used for developing a prototype parking lot, which will be the first big field test for the panels. With the prototype parking lot, they can get a good idea how well the panels handle the strains of daily driving, and can work on ironing out any flaws they see.

            Besides, even if the panels need to be replaced every year, it can be done faster than resurfacing a road, plus the wore out panels can be recycled into new ones.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Why spend a million dollars of other people’s numbers when the surface material can be lab tested for a few thousand?

            If the panels have to be replaced before the 20 year expected lifetime then the economics (questionable as they are) crumble.

          • renegadexiii

            Probably because they’ve already gone through lab testing, as explained in the video on the indiegogo campaign, and passed the lab tests? And the next step in testing is a field test, and the best way to do that for this particular idea is an actual prototype in a place that will be subjected to everyday use?

            And yeah, this whole idea is quite astounding, and I personally do have high hopes for it, but I am quite skeptical about it as well. Mainly involving the use of LED lights to mark road lines during the day. There’s also the high cost that replacing every road in the US would entail, but if the prototype is a success, I can see this being used primarily for park courtyards, parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks to begin with.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You would probably benefit by reading through the comments. Especially those by muddmike and a couple other people who have a decent handle on reality.

            These people have a picture of themselves standing in front of a bunch of these panels. Why haven’t they thrown a few shovelfuls of sand on top and spent a few days driving back and forth on them?

          • Mike Twofeathers

            exactly total fail.

          • Mike Twofeathers

            leds have already been tested, they don’t do the job, not at the angle they want, the glass itself has not been tested in actual road conditions, the prototype is outside of a barn with a tractor that goes very slow and weighs less than a ton, lets replace it with an 80,000lb truck going fast! so in reality it is like having a solar panel on a roof, and it is not used as a roadway or parking lot, nor has any weight been actually put on it. total fail.

          • Mark R

            They are claiming a 20 year lifespan on the panels, so in reality that would mean around 14-15 years. No matter how you try to run the costs, there’s no way that this ends up becoming less than 5-10 times what we spend on asphalt roads and there’s absolutely no way that this ever pays for itself. Cool idea, but not grounded in reality.

          • Mike Twofeathers

            they are trying to quote standards for solar panels, but not for the other components in the panel they want to add, and as we all know electronic components have a higher failure rate than solar panels. try 5 years per panel excluding damage from wear from vehicles.

          • Mike Twofeathers

            actually its year 5 for replacement, considering the components inside the panel do not have the same lifespan as a solar cell, changes it all over again.

          • Mike Twofeathers

            so in reality they have nothing, they are going to rely on others to develop the surface the cells, leds and other things before it can be used, that means they have nothing! i have an idea of a pogo stick to go to the moon, just think we can use the moon to live on, send me money!!

          • muddmike

            They have only had labs do traction testing with new glass panels with a traction tester in a lab. It uses a weighted pendulum. They do this on brand new panels. The testing they weed to do is wear testing, because sand, dirt and rocks will scratch the surface when run over by tires. Tires even contain silica, which is quartz, which the FAQ page admits is harder than glass.

            I had an email exchange with one of their former consultants, who is an expert in glass. He stopped working with them 2 years ago because they refused to do wear testing.

          • Mike Twofeathers

            i can do a lab test on rubber and i can make it come out better than the hardest substance known, easily. post their results and methods used? not available period. hype and conjecture.

          • Mike Twofeathers

            yes they did a test of crushed glass in asphalt, not crushed glass alone. try again.

      • tko8686

        Just to put this out there, If the glass becomes scratched that increases the surface area of the material which actually increases friction, meaning that the roads would actually become easier to drive on as it gets worn. Second, if they produce too much energy so what? It will simply be released as heat until a better storage system is built. Finally, just because they are trying to do a lot, doesn’t mean they are doing too much, it takes big ideas to move technology forward, this may be one of them.

        • muddmike

          The traction of their glass panels is due to the rough surface and bumps. The bumps would be the first part to wear down. The tiny scratches would be less surface area. Also, frosted glass holds a layer of water when wet, which will make them very slippery. Also, the frosted surface would make the solar panels much less efficient and the LEDs would be less visible, particularly during the day.

      • Mark R

        ” They are trying to do way to much.”

        Usually the sign of a lousy idea. Once you get too carried away trying to be all things to all people, you end up overwhelming yourself and making your idea completely unfeasible, if it was even thus in the first place. Some of the claims they’ve made sound like something a sleep deprived 4th grader would come up with at the last minute for their school science project.

        “Wouldn’t it be cool if all our roads had solar and they were heated and all electrical, telephone and cable wires ran through them, and if they had Wi-Fi, and if they lit up and…..and….and.”

        A for imagination, F for effort Timmy.

      • Mike Twofeathers

        i believe they have no test to show, i can take one state, oregon, and with the use of studded tires there that those panels will last maybe an hour at most, now take the studs away and add 80,000lbs per vehicle with trucks along with the dirt on the glass and all kinds of erosion will happen in quick order

  • Simon

    The creator’s sections on the material properties of glass and power transmission are weak, and his obnoxious manner and repetitiveness are offputting, but he raises good points about the energy of phase change and the solar access of parking spaces.

    • Phillip Williams

      Instead of paving a parking lot, which when used would cover the panels,why wouldn’t you just build a roof over it with regular solar panel and power up the cars parked underneath.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I think you’re experiencing a logic problem.

        You’re applying. Some others aren’t.

      • Mike Twofeathers

        it is already done at many federal facilities like va hospitals, i know one in phoenix that does a good job, but being in a city they also have to spend money every month cleaning those panels for optimum efficiency. there are good things in solar and practical, but there is also bad things. one has to take all of it, into account to make it viable.

    • Mike Twofeathers

      only if no cars park there, but parking lots fill during the day and that is when the sun is out, hence no generation of power. and they are empty at night and not needed. wasted energy at night, light pollution we already have to deal with in reality, and to think they want to cover the earth with light pollution? no thanks i pass.

  • anderlan

    Viva la competicion. If they ever get a contract it’ll be a miracle and I’m not putting any of my money in it. It’s great if they can sell it to a city somewhere. I don’t think it distracts too much from the bankable revolution already underway in solar generally.

    • Promontorium

      Oh, you don’t think it “distracts too much” from your precious solar “revolution”? Are you a moron? How is this not PROMOTING solar energy production?

      • Bob_Wallace

        No name-calling and no all caps shouting.

    • Leslie Graham

      They’ve already got contracts.
      Guess you must believe in miracles now huh?

      • Vojtěch Kamil Sova Vrba

        You know, contract does not mean that you take 3 000 000 $ donation to do 10 000$ worth project. That is not real contract, because you spend more money than you get from such contract, only having profits due to donations. And lets be honest, parking lot you spend 1 500 000 $ on that could have been coated with asphalt for 10 000$ can only work if someone is willing to pay those 1 500 000$, believing, he advances something good.

      • Mike Twofeathers

        they have a contract for a parking lot they don’t even have the money to build, and lets see during the day that parking lot will be covered with cars, hence no solar power generated, and at night not enough made in the day to make a difference for an empty parking lot. all miracles aside they can hook to the grid and make it work but then the power was generated in some other way.

      • Blue

        They DON’T have contracts. They have proposals, all of which are not accepted because they have no proof of product, supply, or concept. Not one single contract, and they’ve just gone back to the drawing board to turn the 2’x2′ hex panels into 4″x4″ hex panels. That would increase the cost of microprocessors by a factor of 36!!

      • wideEyedPupil

        Yeah little kids raided the piggy banks for this scam, seriously!

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