At $4.4 million per mile, a road to snow-where?

Here in broken California, we can’t hardly get Cal-Trans to complete regular asphalt roadways on time or on budget. While this is a nice idea, and in a perfect world it might be a perfect solution, I don’t think it will be adopted quickly by cash-strapped state governments. OTOH, maybe Federal subsidies from carbon taxes imposed by the EPA?

The design features embedded LED lights for markers.  But, it’s a trouble magnet for some kids to hack the system like has been done with construction signs. This passage from the article really told me though that he doesn’t have a clue:

Brusaw says that the solar road would cost about $4.4M per mile, but those costs are offset by not needing to build coal plants, install utility poles, and build relay stations. “The taxpayers are already paying for all of these.

Umm, there’s coal power plants being built in the USA at taxpayer expense?

Solar-Powered Glass Road Could Melt Snow Automatically

By John Brandon, Fox News

Click for a slideshow

It’s being called snowmageddon – and for good reason. Snow and ice are wreaking havoc all across the United States with record wind chills and more precipitation than Siberia on a bad day. If your commute is taking three times as long as it usually does, go ahead and blame the archaic highway system.

That’s right. In the 1950s, the idea of paving America with black asphalt seemed like a good idea. Now, 60 years later, we’re still using it — and still sliding all over the road.

But what if the road itself could change?

That’s the dream for Scott Brusaw, who has a novel idea for dealing with snowy roads: replace them with a glass surface embedded with solar cells that generate power from the sun and store it in batteries for use at night. In his view, such a proliferation of solar cells could also help solve our ongoing dependence on fossil fuels, because they could feed excess electric power into the grid. He has even developed illuminated lane markings that change according to current road conditions.

His company, Solar Roadways is waiting for approval on a new $750,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that will help him build a large-scale prototype to test new materials and electronics, and hopefully prove that his invention works.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/02/02/solar-powered-glass-road-melt-snow-automatically/#ixzz1DCViJRWJ

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137 thoughts on “At $4.4 million per mile, a road to snow-where?

  1. Why bother? Snow will be a thing of the past according to fools such as this. The maintenance cost for this road will be horrendous, exceeding the installation cost per unit.

  2. Some unintended consequences come to mind:
    Pot Holes
    Rock Falls
    Power Outages
    Floods
    Fallen Power Lines
    Just imagine your cell phone or laptop embedded in your street with traffic over the top of them.

  3. Yes I just shook my head when I saw this story in the news.

    Great plan, create a solar highway that converts sunlight to electricity at 15%-18% efficiency, then spend a ton of money to store that energy then turn it back into heat at a 90% effectiveness to melt snow.

    This replaces a blacktop surface which has an emissivity of 95+% that turns the suns energy directly into heat with no infrastructure, no hardware, no need to clean the surface to maintain efficiency, all for the wonderful benefit of getting to spend a boat load of money on initial construction and another boat load of money to try to maintain and repair something that will likely break, corrode and fail promptly.

    Have any of these guys tried to maintain an electrically powered system that is constantly exposed to salty water (road de-icer chemicals and rain/snow). These panels will probably work as designed for about a month or two before they start failing faster than they can be fixed. Before you build the highway build a 100 yard long prototype and keep it working for over a year and 2 winter cycles in Buffalo New York or Chicago etc.

    Not to mention the minor detail that it will cost them a billion dollars to discover that wet, dirty glass cracks more easily than dry glass (see 30 year old amateur scientist in Scientific American), And — wait for there is more — wet glass will be slicker than snot on a door knob. Even if they put a texture on the surface when it is first installed, rubber tires and wind blown grit will promptly grind that texture away and turn it into plain old frosted glass.

    Good plan guys (as long as you are paying for it)!!

    Larry

  4. How will the solar cells generate the power to light the road, or melt the snow, when they are covered with snow?

  5. I guess AGW isn’t considered fast enough to dispense with the need for this, or maybe, as Al Gore believes, the faster AGW progresses, the more snow and ice we will have to deal with.

  6. *sigh….

    I drive a lot. I’m sure I’m not the only person here that does. On thing that usually gets my attention on long drives are the battle scars of the road. You see them as you watch for stuff laying on the road that can tear up your chassis, cause a flat or send you off the the road. A lot of these scars are divots, and gouges from traffic accidents, or long scoring marks that meander back and forth across the lane as what ever item that partially fell off of a vehicle was drug for miles digging it’s shallow furrow.

    $4,400,000 per mile works out to $833.33 per foot.

    Asphalt is not simply fine gravel and tar. A lot of research and experimentation has gone into the chemistry and aggregate that is used to pave roads. This stuff has to be tough and durable because it gets beat up on a daily basis. Have you ever noticed the two troughs that show up on older roads? That’s not simply wear. That’s where the material has slowly oozed away from the tire contact area as the surface patches from the tires on all the vehicles have impacted as they go by.

    And now they want to pick OUR pockets and take OUR money to experiment with some dweeb’s idea that no responsible company sees fit to waste it’s own money to develop.

    I think Dante should have been consulted to write the motto for the Statue of Liberty…

    “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here”

  7. ok….so i am going to go against the grain and say i actually LIKE this idea. particularly if the price more or less balances out but we have something that ends up being more functional and can carry power.

    but rbateman makes some good points about possible unintended consequences!

  8. And how much electricity do solar cells generate beneath half a meter of snow on short winter days with a low sun? And how well do they flex to cope with spring thaw, flooding, etc? And what happens when heavy trucks put their snow chains on and drive on this? This sounds like something that only has been tested in a lab, and should only be tested in a lab…

  9. No that would’nt work. With less coal fired power station it would become colder and that would require more solar roads than at present.

  10. What is the wattage necessary to keep 1 square meter of road at 1 degC, when the ambient is at -40C, and snow is falling at 10cm/hr?

  11. So what happens if the roads don’t charge up enough power to melt and keep the snow melted? I see these roads melting the snow and then having it freeze into solid ice.

    This is a horrible idea.

  12. I was under the impression that LED don’t produce enough heat to melt snow… which is why I remember having read a story about stop lights having problems in some areas because they run on LEDs and got covered in snow. traditional stop lights melt the snow without problems.

  13. First of all where is he going to get all the raw materials to make these solar panel pavements and at what cost?

    Second, I am not sure he understands traffic loading ( ESAL’s) and surface texture of the pavement versus wear.

    Third, the FHWA is targeting surface friction as one of the most important variables in reducing accidents/fatalities. Many states are grading their roadway components by their friction characteristics and running skid testing on both raw material and finished pavement. I see a conflict here with a light absorbent panel and Friction ability, The friction comes from the Macrotexture ( coarse aggregate-particles approximately 3/8″ by 1/4″ ) in HMA ( Hot Mix Asphalt ). How are you going to embed particles of that size in a solar panel?

    Lastly, it would probably be cheaper to install heating coils ( in new Concrete at least ) than re-vamping entire road system.

  14. But how can a snow-covered road getting wet/icy/snow-covered between 1500 (3:00 pm) through 0900 (9:00 am) local solar time melt any snow at all?

    And, once covered by blown and newly fallen snow over 1-2 inches thick during the 16 hours per day NOT receiving direct sun shine, how can the receiver receive any solar power to melt the snow under the snow-covered receiver?

    How can a snow-covered receiver, or pine-tree-shaded receiver, or a receiver deep between a valley wall or embankment or next to a mountain cliff to the south receive any solar power?

    Or this “only” good for tree-free, open-sided, flat-bottomed valleys where snow is not going to accumulate to any great depth? In other words, will it only be good for roads where natural sunlight will b e strong enough to melt the snow anyway? For free?

  15. A GLASS road? Can’t say as I like that thought much. Slipping and sliding on asphalt in extreme conditions is bad enough. Slipping and sliding on glass in light rain would be no fun.

  16. Even if the idea wasn’t totally stupid, for a whole host of reasons, it still wouldn’t save having to build fossil or nuclear power. All solar and wind has to be backed up by fossil/nuclear for when the sun don’t shine or the wind don’t blow. These people keep forgetting this. Also, we just found out in Texas that natural gas as a backup doesn’t work because no one is going to pay for the pipeline capacity to run all the gas-fired plants at the same time when they are needed.

    I guess the key to getting rich is to come up with a hair brained scheme and get someone with deep pockets (we taxpayers) to fund your trial, pay yourself handsomely, then fold the company after the trial fails.

    Why doesn’t this guy do us all a favor and not ask the idiots at DOT to give him any of our tax dollars. They’re likely to fall for this. Instead, stick to fleecing venture capitalists.

    Also, don’t forget, semiconductor production involves creation of hazardous waste and disposal problems. Solar cells are semiconductors on a massive scale. So, there are massive hazardous waste generation problems.

  17. See the real problem is that he came up with this nonsense scam before me. Ah, if only I could lie with a straight face, I could bilk people with half truths.

  18. Golly, why not expand the idea to include a sort of third-rail at each side of the solar-powered roadway so all those future plug-in hybrid vehicles could keep going far behind their normal range even after their batteries are fully discharged?

    Of course, a 12-volt first-rail (no need for another two rails because cars and trucks don’t run on those other two rails, dummy!) would need to carry lots of current at such a low voltage. But not to worry, recharging all those batteries could be done through first-rails made of silver-amalgamated copper because government-funded cost is of no concern. On the other hand, using DC-to-DC converters, the voltage from the solar cells could be stepped up to, say 125 volts DC to power the first-rail, and less silver would be needed.

    Unfortunately, the fish and wildlife service would probably object because so many flying-fish could die if they flew into those first-rails, sort of like is happening to birds when they fly into those wonderful taxpayer-supported windmills. Too bad such a wonderful energy-saving idea may die before other government bureaucrats in the Dept. of Energy (or whatever it’s called these days), ever eager to spend more taxpayer money, become aware of its fantastic energy-saving potential! Imagine — autos and trucks powered by solar energy from the roadway!

  19. modular road building is a good thing, how this would work out not sure.
    black top is going to be more expensive as we go, silicon will remain? glass will not change as much. concrete is already cheaper to use.

    nice find
    Tim

  20. A 3/4″ diameter rock stuck in the tread of an 18 wheeler’s tire should put short work to the “live experiment”.

  21. … but if the road is covered with snow, surely it won’t get any sunlight to generate energy to melt said snow?

    Or am I missing something?

    Now, if we could find a way to find Trenbeth’s ‘missing heat’ and use that to melt snow, that would be a win-win!

  22. Oh, BTW, there’s a reason you want your solar cells clean. They are switched in series to build up enough voltage to drive an inverter. Dirt on the road would make single cells lose their voltage, and the performance of an entire series of cells drops disproportionally. ATM we switch several panels in series; some companies offer micro inverters that work with a single panel ( i don’t know how efficient those are), but nobody offers inverters that work with single cells.

    So – solar cells under dirt – no energy.

  23. Beyond stupid. Asphalt rises and falls in price. Their asphalt price assumptions are based on peak values from (apparently) 2008. Obviously, they don’t know their asphalt.
    The entire concept is flawed, from materials of construction to installation and maintenance. Where are Sen. William Proxmire and his “Golden Fleece” awards when we most need them?

  24. The $4.4 million per mile estimate is pure fantasy.

    Underground high voltage transmission lines alone cost about $1m/mile installed.

    And regular PV panels that aren’t design to be drive on are about $8 per watt for total installed system cost. If you get 100 watts per sq yd and the road is 10 yards across, that is $8,000 per linear yard for the PV components. So, about $14m per mile for the pv components.

    Add about 50% because your dealing with two different heavily unionized industries that don’t traditionally work together plus ruggedization costs and you’d be lucky to get this kind of system built for less than $22.5m per mile.

    At this price, each 50 mile segment would buy you a 1GW coal plant or a 1GW nuke plant if the NRC didn’t exist. Plus, you wouldn’t have to close the road every time you had a generation plant component failure.

  25. Brusaw says keeping the roads clean enough for the solar cells to operate would not be a problem. He suggests using a chemical spray, such as titanium dioxide, which would prevent dirt accumulation and even turn oil deposits into a sandy mix.

    “Worst case, we can use squeegee trucks to replace snow plows,” he says.

    I think a yellow brick road would be more useful. ;-)

  26. Well at least they’ll create new jobs . . . Horizontal window cleaner – or glass rubber scrubbers. :p

  27. Worth a test. Build a quarter mile somewhere. Or build six quarter mile sections, in six parts of the nation. Watch what happens.

    If the test road is swiftly smashed to smitherines, be wary. You can bet that some person will suggest the problem is that our cars are too big and too heavy. We will be asked to drive around in 98-pound bubbles, with our knees up by our chins, and our backs all hunched over.

  28. In Vermont they have spent $millions over several decades trying to build 3 miles of a 2 lane road and the still haven’t build any of it, because of environmentalists from Mass complained. But even if they could get over the objections of environmentalists this would never work there, where they really could use self cleaning roads.
    First they don’t get enough sunlight especailly when it snow. Second it is so cold the batteries wouldn’t store the energy long enough. Third it is hilly so the sections wouldn’t fit together well. So like so many bright idea from these type of people, this one works better where it isn’t needed.

  29. We have what are affectionately referred to as “frost heaves” on our roads every spring due to freezing and thawing. One winter in New Hampshire and this road is toast…

  30. Perhaps something like pressure transducers to convert the vehicle weight or acceleration/braking torque into current? Same basic concept but without a lot of the drawbacks.

  31. The original article is ludicrous:

    Meanwhile, the blogging community has not responded well to the solar road concept. Infrastructurist.com called the solar road idea “crazy” and “dubious” while other bloggers questioned some of the engineering. Koslowski says any time you come up with an innovative idea, it has to be supported by a sound cost analysis. He says solar roads would need to be leveraged in a wide area.

    Another objection has to do with the glass material used for the roads. Brusaw says there are glass research projects where the material is strong enough to stop a bullet or can even be used as a shield against roadside bombs, so his surface could easily withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler. A textured surface would provide traction on par with blacktop.

    Where do you even start?

  32. “Brusaw says that the solar road would cost about $4.4M per mile […] When a road needs to be repaved anyway, why not replace the oil-based asphalt […]

    It is way too expensive. According to Generic Cost Per Mile Models cost per mile for milling and resurfacing a 2 lane rural road with 5′ paved shoulders (the kind shown in the picture, although I wonder if any paved shoulder is to be found under that snow at sides) is $381,214.82, which is only 8.7% of the cost projected by Brusaw. Even new construction of the same kind using old technology is said to be $1,472,830.90 per mile, one third of a fancy glass road.

    Therefore road construction alone never justifies the investment, the bulk of the money should come back from additional benefits mentioned in the article. Would any sane person pay three or four million bucks for a mile of these improvements?

    As there’s about 4 million miles of roadway in the US, the additional cost would be more than 12 trillion dollars, having the same order of magnitude as the current public debt ($14.13 trillion as of January 31, 2011, close to the annual GDP). Insanity.

  33. Nah , PJB, just embed coils in the roads and require all vehicles to have large magnets fitted underneath them.

    God help us but where do we get all these scammers and why are they even the time of day by politicians?

  34. Don’t know if this logic violation has been mentioned, but how does a road with snow on it generate enough energy to melt the snow, especially at night when the surface temperature is pretty much guaranteed to be colder than it was during the day? And if it could be used to melt the snow at night, why wouldn’t it be used to melt the snow during the day?

    Perhaps Fred Pearce can do an article to clear the air and unravel the mysteries.

  35. Frank K. says:
    February 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    We have what are affectionately referred to as “frost heaves” on our roads every spring due to freezing and thawing. One winter in New Hampshire and this road is toast…

    Hey Frank, back in America I still own a house and property in Vermont(howdy neighbor…) and my first thought was also FROST HEAVES.

  36. Does anyone remember our Brilliant Secretary Chu proposing that we paint all our highways white so that they reflect the heat back into space. Could he be the one subsidizing (with your tax dollars) both of these schemes at the same time?

    Also it seems to me that the areas that get the most snow also get the least sun in the winter when the snow falls?

  37. Two words.

    Chains. Studs/

    Cars coming onto the highway from sideroads with chains on or studded tires.

  38. Um, isn’t it usually cloudy during snowstorms?
    And then when the sky clears the road is, uh… covered with snow?

  39. Glass roads during rain storms just might be able to take care of that pesky population problem. Heck, glass roads could literally take millions of cars off the road each year.

    What the heck would the glass surface look like with vehicles grinding dirt into it?

    Remove all universities, movie studios, theaters, concert halls & the United Nations buildings from the electric grids, force them to run on wind/solar/wave power and I guarantee you Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Cooling(CAGWC) will cease to exist.

  40. Frank K. says:
    February 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    We have what are affectionately referred to as “frost heaves” on our roads every spring due to freezing and thawing. One winter in New Hampshire and this road is toast…

    Hey Frank, back in America I still own a house and property in Vermont(howdy neighbor…) and my first thought was also FROST HEAVES.

    How the heck does a solar road melt snow during the night. As far as I know only Spanish Solar Power Panels work at night.

    How do you drive uphill on a glass road in the rain? Or stop for that matter?

    The GREENs should stick with Unicorns and Pixie Dust.

  41. I see this being possible, but lots of problems that need to be ironed out. I assume solid engineering would deal with those as they arose. If the type of glass is selected properly, certain parts of this are pretty much no-brainers, just application of known technologies.

    On the other hand, I see the electronics as being a weak link. Perhaps power distriibution, too, but probably not. Good engineers can deal with it.

    @rbateman Feb 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm:

    Some unintended consequences come to mind:
    Pot Holes
    Rock Falls
    Power Outages
    Floods
    Fallen Power Lines

    Solid engineering would solve all these. And more. I assume most of this would be tested in small sections in varying climate and seasonal conditions.

    If there is ample energy going into the grid and heaters everywhere built in, those commenters who talk about salt are off base, IMHO. Thermostats would direct enough heat to sections that dropped below, say, 35°F. There have to be heater coils if they don’t retain the extracted energy locally. In that case, the electricity can come from the grid, no matter how far north.

    To his list add:
    – frost heaves
    – erosion underneath, not just in springtime or floods

    It is important to realize that these have to have sufficient gravel or whatever foundations, and the foundations have to support the glass sections completely. Otherwise the glass sections will flex.

    ALL roads flex, which is one reason asphalt works as well as it does. But asphalt degrades in sunlight and the elements and dries out and becomes brittle, which is why it needs replacing or driveways need sealcoating from time to time.

    The flexing is such that, decades ago a study determined that one fully loaded semi-trailer does the damage of 10,000 cars. I recall that number, but don’t recall what weight it was based on, nor how many wheels per semi. Better foundations helps immensely.

    Glass does not flex very well. Flexing will cause micro-cracks. Micro-cracks allow water in which is damaging in several ways, most of all the electronics. I would propose redundant systems built in, if costs don’t prohibit it.

    Potholes happen because of loss of foundation in mini-locations. That loss of foundation will not go away unless new foundation designs are developed to eliminate it.

    Rock falls? I imagine replacing sections will be necessary. That happens today, too.

    @Steinar Midtskogen Feb 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm:

    …And what happens when heavy trucks put their snow chains on and drive on this? This sounds like something that only has been tested in a lab, and should only be tested in a lab…

    Of course they will test it out. Our current roads had test sections. One I saw a sign for long, long ago was near Erie, PA. It had been built back around 1920 or so. Concrete and asphalt roads didn’t just happen by accident. Our great grandparents weren’t idiots.

    As to snow chains, if you paid attention, they would heat the roads. That obviously is meant to keep snow from staying frozen or ice from forming. Ergo, no need for salt or chains. Salt alone would keep the environmental fragility of it under control quite a bit. During the implementation stage, when there is a mixed population of road surfaces, certain controls and procedures would need to be in place.

    Many of the ideas we’ve seen floated have come out of left field. This one didn’t, even if it is somewhat outside the box. It is simply a mixture of applications that hasn’t been tried before.

    I vote for trying it out. $750,00o? Or even $75 million – that is such a drop in the bucket. This one has a chance of flying. They should be able to develop it within 2-5 years, depending on results of some of their materials tests.

    If so, it would provide lots of jobs, a huge national infrastructure project. And it would help everyone, businesses and citizens both. If they farm any of it out to China or India, though, I’d have their testicles boiled. This would need to be an America-First project.

  42. hotrod ( Larry L ) says: February 6, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    “Yes I just shook my head when I saw this story in the news. … This replaces a blacktop surface which has an emissivity of 95+”

    This has got to be an April fool!

    At least they could have made it more believable … like using copper to “concentrate” the heat along narrow tracks, or how about little caged rodents under the road running around of wheels to generate electricity …. or CO2 “greenhouse” effect heaters … filled with CO2 enhanced greenhouses which always get warmer (in theory)

    There’s even an ad in the UK where a rat trying to enter a house is warned: “watch out the solar panels they’re slippery!”

  43. It’s being called snowmageddon

    This is so lame. It snowed 2 inches in Seattle in November and they called it “Snowmageddon”, “Snowpocalypse”, “SnOMG”. People need to get lives.

  44. Feet2theFire says:
    February 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    “Good engineers can deal with it.”

    Do you have a source of ‘good engineers’ that work for free?

  45. Just think of all those green jobs in the maintenance crew that will be needed to troubleshoot the cells, inverters. wiring and heaters; clean battery terminals, and polish the glass.

    When it is snowing, or when there would be too many vehicles on the road to allow the maintenance crews or the solar rays to have access to the road surface; they can use smart signs.to tell drivers to just pull off the road .

    The waiting motorists won’t mind waiting while the busy workers do their thing, or slowing down and allowing multiple car lengths between vehicles to let the sun hit the road, because they know (perhaps learned in remedial driving school) saving the Planet.is so much more important than their own sacrifice.

    And when the economic stimulus from all those new green jobs trickles down, it will surely yield a surplus; which might even allow some non planet-saving tasks like maintenance on bridges, road surfaces, drainage and safety equipment.[/sarc]

  46. @ Jeff Alberts says:
    February 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    It’s being called snowmageddon

    This is so lame. It snowed 2 inches in Seattle in November and they called it “Snowmageddon”, “Snowpocalypse”, “SnOMG”. People need to get lives.

    ====================================

    In today’s world, many peoples “Lives” are virtual. Reality TV, Ipods, etc. take the place of the real world, and in the virtual world you can do anything. Including falling off a subway platform or walking in front of bus without any damage. It’s all make believe, until the real world catches up with you.

  47. A while back some friends and I had a similar idea, but to use ground source heat pumps instead of solar. After a couple of pints and some beer mats, realised it was unlikely to cost in, and that was with fewer design challenges than this idea. If the TiO2 idea is to treat the glass like anti-fog glass, won’t that just reduce traction even further in wet? Looks like the guy’s managed to get some funding though, so maybe we should have saved our beer mats.

  48. lets assume for a moment that this idea works. Enough solar energy is collected to light parts of the roadway and keep the roadway fairly clear.

    What happens when it snows hard for a day and the system cannot keep up? Now the road is covered with snow and not recieving any energy. In order to clear the snow off the road it would need to be plowed. Anyone who has driven near a plow knows that when those steel blades hit the ground they send up 5 foot fountains of sparks. Please tell me how your fantastically hardened glass is supposed to survive a plow scraping the top of it with a large, heavy, bouncing chunk of steel?

    maybe you could melt the snow with chemicals? what chemical can melt 6″ of snow?

    I’m not against progress. I’m against progress for the sake of progress. Just because something is “possible” doesnt mean its not idiotic.

  49. This phrase jumped out at me and, IMO, says all that needs to be said on the subject:
    “His company, Solar Roadways is waiting for approval on a new $750,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that will help him build a large-scale prototype to test new materials and electronics, and hopefully prove that his invention works.

    Nuff said!

  50. Some great ideas in there, but it needs a hefty dose of reality. Smart materials and structures are part of the future, but the concepts need to be well thought out.

    There are already plans for smog reducing roads and surfaces near roads in Europe: http://www.autoblog.com/2010/07/12/roads-laced-with-titanium-dioxide-could-help-us-breathe-easier/ – again expensive – 50% greater than conventional road construction/materials.

    Perhaps neither of these ideas will ‘make it’, but here’s a thought – when cat’s eyes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat%27s_eye_%28road%29) were developed, I’m sure there were some that thought putting them in every road surface would be an expensive waste of money, despite the additional safety they promised.

    Who knows – maybe if we discover antigravity and all ‘cars’ are then ‘hover vehicles’ glass roads could come into their own ;-)

  51. I’d like a grant for a 21st Century Mobile Traction Delivery System that will be able to move all over an area and make snow covered roads drivable!

    (Snowplow with sand and salt to normal people)

  52. Here is a much simpler idea. Simply build a peaked roof over the road. And hang down Plexiglas side walls. Similar to the old covered bridges. That would be MUCH cheaper. And by keeping most of the snow (and rain) off the road, there would be much less spalling, frost heaves, and pot holes. It would be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. The side walls should not be completely closed to permit air circulation.

    Now that may seem nuts also BUT (a) it would work and (b) be much cheaper than the proposed idea. It would even mean that road resurfacing projects would happen less often — the reduction in road maintenance costs should be subtracted from the capital costs of this scheme. Would cut down on weather related accidents also. Plus — talk about “shovel ready” work. You actually could employ a lot of people with this idea.

    Yes it is crazy I will assert that. And not cheap. But it has the advantage of simplicity. And would work.

  53. You know Sunsword , directly above is absolutely correct. It would do the same thing and be much cheaper. AND you could put solar panels on the roof as well! To power the lights inside

  54. I think people are being very negative. The idea is brilliant, but the inventor is just missing some practical knowledge in some of the finer details. I’d think there would be enough expertise on this site to help out. I even made a list of things he doesn’t seem to know much about:

    Snow
    Roads
    Tires
    Dirt
    Glass
    Solar Cells
    Erosion
    Freeze/Thaw Cycles
    Economics
    Power Distribution
    Frost Heaving
    Cyclical Natural Interferance Systems (Leaves)
    Territorialy Induced Sub Culture Markers (Graffiti)
    Roadside Deposited Morning After Night Before Inducements (Puke)
    Deer in Head Lights Incident Factors (Road Kill)

    Might be more, that’s just off the top of my head. C’mon, help the guy out!

  55. Can anyone help me set up a website called 550.org – the safe target for co2 levels (in response to 350.org)

  56. Steven Hoffer says:
    February 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    maybe you could melt the snow with chemicals? what chemical can melt 6″ of snow?

    Napalm.

    Apparently it has quite a nice smell in the morning.

  57. Re: Feet2theFire says:

    ” …I see this being possible…
    … I vote for trying it out. $750,00o? Or even $75 million – that is such a drop in the bucket. ”

    Yeah? With a national debt running north of $14,200,000,000,000 and an average of $45,437 dollars PER PERSON, hey, it’s just another wad of FREE MONEY ripped out of the pocket of taxpayers… you know, people who actually work.

    “…If so, it would provide lots of jobs, a huge national infrastructure project. And it would help everyone, businesses and citizens both. If they farm any of it out to China or India, though, I’d have their testicles boiled. This would need to be an America-First project.”

    Good luck with that pipe dream.

    Manufacturing and production capability have been exported to countries who don’t have to deal with the US EPA regulations, Labor and Wage requirements, Tax rates, OSHA requirements etc. Not only that, much of our technology, that is, in areas where we did have an advantage (at one time) has been siphoned off to places that seem to be hostile to us…

    Here is an illustration of who leads the world in photovoltaic production… you know the DOMINANT player.

    Source for that image came from here:

    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/29285993/World-Solar-PV-Production

  58. Let’s pretend this could (chuckle, chortle, giggle) work. Let’s pretend the combined road/PVC could (choke, snort) take the stresses of traffic. Let’s pretend fantasize that this could replace all those “taxpayer funded” (EEP!) coal plants et all.

    Now imagine the infrastructure and power plants we’re going to need to fabricate some 4 megamiles of sooperdooper indestructible PVCs.

    When I first read about this a couple of days ago, I came to the conclusion that it was really just a scam to get his 3-place parking lot paid for.

  59. @SSam Feb 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm:

    Manufacturing and production capability have been exported to countries who don’t have to deal with the US EPA regulations, Labor and Wage requirements, Tax rates, OSHA requirements etc. Not only that, much of our technology, that is, in areas where we did have an advantage (at one time) has been siphoned off to places that seem to be hostile to us…

    Yep. It was American business CEOs who sold out the American worker, so they could maximize their profits. The government might have done something in the ’90s and early ’00s to stop the handover of our jobs, but the climate in the country was all about free trade and free markets, let businesses do anything they want to do, because it would all trickle down to us on Main Street. But the government didn’t lift a finger and the CEOs did what they wanted, and got their big profits stuffed in their pockets and their golden parachutes They didn’t give a hoot about anyone but themselves. And we are all competing with $3.00/day labor in China and $3.00.hour programmers in India. Don’t put the sellout of America on the government; with the free market mentality it would have never passed both houses. So we were all screwed. If it hasn’t hit all of us yet, just keep waiting. It will be a generation or two before we get manufacturing back – if ever.

  60. Paul in Sweden says: “Remove all universities, movie studios, theaters, concert halls & the United Nations buildings from the electric grids, force them to run on wind/solar/wave power and I guarantee you Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Cooling(CAGWC) will cease to exist.”

    This is a GREAT idea!!!! I think we should start with Al Gore’s house. We either need a chain saw for the power poles, or a trencher for buried lines. We could get him off the grid in minutes!

  61. I am going to correct myself on one thing:

    I thought I saw in the article or the video that the road sections would be able to be heated. I don’t see that in it anywhere.

    Without heating, I don’t agree with this at all. Glass with snow or ice on it? And not enough black to retain heat? And converting the energy into electricity means that energy is not available for heating the road. That is not smart.

    Also, anyone who’s ever temperature shocked a glass and seen it crack knows that glass has a pretty sizable thermal expansion coefficient (except for quartz glass which has a 0.00 coefficient), so the glass will continually be expanding and contracting – and this will in time crack the glass. Especially when complicated by a live load that dynamically presses down for a fraction of a second.

    If salt is necessary – and evidently it will be, as it is drawn up at present – this will be a disaster. And, yes, snow plows will devastate it.

    It must have heater coils buried inside it, with electricity normally being sent out from the solar cells, but also able to bring electricity in from the grid to heat the cold and snowy sections. Salt MUST be removed from the equation. And severe cold, too. (Look at that windmill the other day…) I’d have about a 40°F thermostat in each section. I’d also sense when there is an electrical problem in any solar cell or heater. Done in sufficient quantities the cost should be minimized.

    In addition, these glass sections cannot just SIT on top of their foundations. When a vehicle accelerates or decelerates it is the friction between the tires and the road surface that allows the thrust to be transmitted. But it also means that the roadway has to react to the applied thrust. As the car accelerates, the glass road has to be anchored well enough and be strong enough in the X-direction to react to the acceleration. Otherwise, the road gets pushed back and the car doesn’t go anywhere. It’s kind of like trying to start walking on a small piece of carpet on a waxed floor, to some degree. The opposite happens when braking occurs. The road section has to withstand up to an 80,000 lb load plus vehicle and trailer weight in a panic stop situation. It has to be attached firmly to both the tires and the foundation. If either attachment gives way, it ain’t good.

    I predict this will be the achilles heel and the death of this.

    There are just a lot of things that can go wrong. But good engineering can solve all of these. But keep the scientists out of it.

  62. Reminds me of the bright idea to cover stadiums, warehouses, large stables, and barns with ripstop nylon fabric. Since snow would be a thing of the past, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

  63. I have a better idea. Seeing as how we’re all going to be out on the roads anyway regardless of the weather, the government could give us each a 4 x4 truck with a snow blade on the front. They could eliminate all the graders and such on the highways and we’d even clear our neighborhood streets too. And if they gave a few of us quads with blades, we could do the sidewalks too! Far more cost effective.

  64. Proven once again:

    The two commonest elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. ~Harlan Ellison

  65. Actually this idea has merit if you limit it to regions where it is appropriate. You can’t expect one idea to be practical all the way to the north pole. If you limit it to those zones where frost and snow are light and rare it ought to work pretty well.

    Of course if global warming is real you’ll have to keep moving the road north.
    And if global cooling is real you’ll have to keep moving the road south.

    No, wait, that’s not how it works. The snow showing up further south is because of global warming I just heard. So if it gets warmer you’ll have to move the road north to where there is less snow. No, wait, that’s still not how it works. If we have global warming, there is no snow that anyone can remember…so global warming affects short term memory. No wait, that’s not it either. Got it. If global warming is real it will be catastrophic which gives us two options.

    1. We do something about it really fast like ban all fossil fuel use. No need for roads. Problem solved.
    2. We do nothing about in which case we all die. No need for roads. Problem solved.

    You know what else? If the debate ever ends I will be very sad. The endless stream of goofball crackpot are you really trying to pull that one over on me stupidity to make fun of will be hard to replace.

  66. How about thermocouples imbedded in the pavement. Electricity out in the summer and in the winter heated roads with electricity in.

  67. I don’t doubt that this innovation will end up on some dust heap, consigned to be a “nice try, but no cigar”

  68. At first I thought that this guy was dumber then a wooden fence post, but then I discovered that he had conned one government agency out of $100,000 and now he is up for a further $700,000 plus GE gave him $50,000 for coming up with this scam.
    Man! I am the dumb one. :-( pg

  69. @Feet2theFire

    90% of what left was due to fleeing government red tape and union shortsightedness, not $3/day labor. Also, where they couldn’t remain competitive, CEO’s would have been derelict not to maximize value for the shareholders.

  70. @richardM

    No “nice try” involved here. This is a scheme to suck taxpayer $$$ into someone’s pocket.

  71. RE: Brusaw says that the solar road would cost about $4.4M per mile

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper to build a roof over the road to keep the snow off?

  72. Maybe we should just emit more co2 so its warmer at night and during winter months and so snow is a thing of the past, then we wouldn’t need such roads – oh hang on – now co2 causes cold temperatures and snow – doh!

  73. Feet2theFire says:
    February 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm


    As to snow chains, if you paid attention, they would heat the roads. That obviously is meant to keep snow from staying frozen or ice from forming. Ergo, no need for salt or chains.

    That’s assuming that it can melt the snow fast enough. Let’s assume that the panels are magically 100% effective. A low winter sun behind clouds (it’s cloudy when it snows) will perhaps give 10 W/m² for 1/3 of the day. If the rate of snow is 3 mm/h (water equivalent), or about 3 cm snow per hour and the temperature is -10 C, how much energy is needed to melt this? I think you need much more than 3 W/m² for that.

  74. Bob Diaz says:
    February 6, 2011 at 9:20 pm
    Wouldn’t it be cheaper to build a roof over the road to keep the snow off?>>

    Excellent! Now we’re thinking! Should we make it a really strong roof so that when the oceans rise and swamp the road we can just drive on the roof?

    Hmmmm…. Do you suppose they would pay out some research grants on building roads that are constructed entirely of a downward grade? Think how much fuel that would save! Seems plausible….

  75. Uhm, wouldn’t the road need to be cleared of snow first in order to collect the sunlight to, uhm, clear it of snow?

  76. Great idea, don’t knock it, I have applied for a $10,000.000 grant to build antigravitational cars and trucks, no surface contact no wear.
    Last time I applied the tyre lobby was against it.

  77. If the sun is not strong enough to melt the ice directly after being absorbed by black asphalt, it definitely won’t be able to do it after going through a PV set and batteries with associated losses. This is pure boondoggle.
    Plus in most areas with snow-cover there simply isn’t much sun in winter. After all that is why there is a winter you know.

  78. Jean Parisot says:
    February 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm
    Wouldn’t this make a lot more sense for taxiways and runways?

    The last runway project I worked on was a meter thick of highly reinforced concrete. A 747 is a couple hundred thousand pounds coming in at 200 mph. That had better be some really, really special glass.

  79. Kevin M said
    Remove all universities, movie studios, theaters, concert halls & the United Nations buildings from the electric grids, force them to run on wind/solar/wave power and I guarantee you Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Cooling(CAGWC) will cease to exist.
    ==========
    simply Brilliant suggestion and I bet hes got THE best answer:-) Love it.

  80. I can imagine a car chase with the cops throwing out a spike strip to slow down the perp, only to have the perp drive 5 miles on his rims. Probably just as bad someone pulling a boat and the trailer comes off the hitch and digs into the road for a few hundred feet. Has the designers thought of things like that?

  81. Anybody that has ever tried to boil water using snow will realise that there is a huge energy gap in this idea of keeping roads snow free using stored electrical energy ( from PVs of all lame ideas).
    Just to list the mechanical design problems would run to several pages and the installation costs and amount of maintenance involved in such a system would be cost prohibitive. This one won’t fly.

    And he could get $750,000 from the taxpayer!! I am off to the drawing board.

  82. Anybody that has ever tried to boil water using snow will realise that there is a huge energy gap in this idea of keeping roads snow free using stored electrical energy ( from PVs of all lame ideas).
    Besides that issue-just to list the mechanical design problems would run to several pages and the installation costs and amount of maintenance involved in such a system would be cost prohibitive. This one won’t fly.

    And he could get $750,000 from the taxpayer!! I am off to the drawing board.

  83. Paul in Sweden says, on February 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm:

    Remove all universities, movie studios, theaters, concert halls & the United Nations buildings from the electric grids, force them to run on wind/solar/wave power and I guarantee you Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Cooling(CAGWC) will cease to exist.

    *******************************

    Brilliant idea – I’m all for it!
    Let’s start with the universities and the UN, I say!

  84. davidmhoffer says on February 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm:

    Actually this idea has merit if you limit it to regions where it is appropriate. You can’t expect one idea to be practical all the way to the north pole. If you limit it to those zones where frost and snow are light and rare it ought to work pretty well.

    Of course if global warming is real you’ll have to keep moving the road north.
    And if global cooling is real you’ll have to keep moving the road south.

    No, wait, that’s not how it works. The snow showing up further south is because of global warming I just heard. So if it gets warmer you’ll have to move the road north to where there is less snow. No, wait, that’s still not how it works. If we have global warming, there is no snow that anyone can remember…so global warming affects short term memory. No wait, that’s not it either. Got it. If global warming is real it will be catastrophic which gives us two options.

    1. We do something about it really fast like ban all fossil fuel use. No need for roads. Problem solved.
    2. We do nothing about in which case we all die. No need for roads. Problem solved.

    You know what else? If the debate ever ends I will be very sad. The endless stream of goofball crackpot are you really trying to pull that one over on me stupidity to make fun of will be hard to replace.
    *************************************

    And I’ll be very sad to make do without your outstanding replies. A laugh a day keeps the (climate ‘science’) doctor away …

  85. Dave Springer says: February 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    The two commonest elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. ~Harlan Ellison

    And both in their own special way are responsible for are causing global warming!

    Ralph says: February 7, 2011 at 3:30 am

    someone pulling a boat and the trailer comes off the hitch and digs into the road for a few hundred feet. Has the designers thought of things like that?

    You said too much … “Have the designers thought?”

    Honestly most of these renewable energy project are shear madness and in my opinion the dividing line between perpetual motion machines and renewable energy is usually only that one gets a government grant.

  86. Build a roof over the road. Provides “green jobs” shovelling the snow off it so it doesn’t collapse (check the news).

    I’m holding out for the Douglas-Martin Sunscreen and the rolling roads.

    Best,
    Frank

  87. Rubber from tyres, oil and dirt will quickly reduce the effectiveness of the solar cells to absorb solar energy.

    The amount of heat energy required to keep the road surface above freezing at times of extreme low temperatures and snow fall would be enormous. Furthermore the surface even kept above freezing would not prevent heavy snow build-up and drifting.

    The reason for connecting this to the grid is obvious, it will not work otherwise.

    The “selling point”, as with windmills, is the notional carbon-free contribution to the grid in ideal conditions.

    The reality will require supply from the grid most of the time, particularly at night and in periods of low temperatures, high wind chill and heavy snowfall – battery back-up will quickly fail.

    The net contribution of this latter day yellow brick road to the electric grid would be negative, and its running costs over the rainbow.

    (See windmills and their notorious failure to come close to even 25% of their notional generating capacity, which have to be heated using electricity from the grid during cold periods particularly when the blades are not turning or not turning fast enough – most of the time in Winter – then need electricity from the grid to keep them at idle, speed them up or provide braking when wind conditions are not “ideal”.)

  88. Paul in Sweden says, on February 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm:

    “Remove all universities, movie studios, theaters, concert halls & the United Nations buildings from the electric grids, force them to run on wind/solar/wave power and I guarantee you Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Cooling(CAGWC) will cease to exist.”

    Great idea – but you forgot to include NCAR and NASA GISS in the list (particularly their supercomputing facilities). They’d have to resort to burning old copies of journal papers and government reports for heat…

  89. Wouldn’t the glare from a glass road be incredibly dangerous? Sun reflecting off of car windows can be a hazard, the entire road surface would be blinding.

    Plus, there would be a couple more problems in areas like here in central Florida where thunderstorms are a daily occurrence in the summer. Water on glass. Hydroplaning is bad enough on asphalt. And how easy will it be to replace lightning damage?

  90. Wouldn’t it be easier just to develop a flying car like we were promised back in the 60’s?

    No need for roads at all!

  91. slp says:
    February 7, 2011 at 5:56 am
    Wouldn’t the glare from a glass road be incredibly dangerous? Sun reflecting off of car windows can be a hazard, the entire road surface would be blinding.

    Not to worry. After a few days the surface will be dirty and chipped enough to solve that problem. And incidentally prevent any PV units from working. Remember that even a thin layer of wind-blown dust is enough to drastically decrease the effect of solar cells, as proven by e. g. Mars Rovers.
    Incidentally I wonder how they plan to prevent sand, grit or pebbles from getting blown onto the road by wind or carried there by vehicles. Together with vehicle tires these would grind the glass away pretty quickly I would think.

  92. Some unintended consequences come to mind:
    Pot Holes
    Rock Falls
    Power Outages
    Floods
    Fallen Power Lines

    Solid engineering would solve all these.

    If that is so, how come they all keep happening?

  93. Thank you all. Even the “it could happen” posts prove it shouldn’t happen – ever. It might make a nice display at Disney World under glass and controlled conditions. Mighty expensive entertainment though. And what about building and replacing all of the batteries and their degrading efficiencies due to age and temperature?

    Apparently, it’s the research that’s renewable. And the research we’ve been doing since Carter consistently and repeatedly says “not remotely practical. ” But, oh wait, what if we require electric cars and they are powered by the very road they are on? I have to use my first reaction to this article:

    So little wheat and so much chaffe in the utopian mental masturbation fantasy business.

  94. “davidmhoffer says:
    February 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm
    I think people are being very negative. The idea is brilliant, but the inventor is just missing some practical knowledge in some of the finer details. I’d think there would be enough expertise on this site to help out. I even made a list of things he doesn’t seem to know much about:

    Snow
    Roads
    Tires
    Dirt
    Glass
    Solar Cells
    Erosion
    Freeze/Thaw Cycles
    Economics
    Power Distribution
    Frost Heaving
    Cyclical Natural Interferance Systems (Leaves)
    Territorialy Induced Sub Culture Markers (Graffiti)
    Roadside Deposited Morning After Night Before Inducements (Puke)
    Deer in Head Lights Incident Factors (Road Kill)

    Might be more, that’s just off the top of my head. C’mon, help the guy out!”

    helpwanted.com
    monster.com
    jobsbin.com
    That oughta help the guy out. He needs a day job, preferrably one that doesn’t involve exposure to chemicals as I don’t think he can handle anymore loss.

    This idea has the hallmark of an idea sprung from a night, or two, of libations(pick the poison) and we could all end up paying for this boondoggle. It is impracticle, costly, and has very little chance of actually working….hmm, right up the AGW believers alley, actually.
    As far as the engineering goes, the potential is there, but then the potential to live on the bottom of the sea is there too, just too bloody expensive. There is little we cannot do, however the costs are just too much. With all the problems states, not to mention the fed, are facing now with the state employee unions and their golden pensions, does anyone really believe that this project could come anywhere near the cost the man stated and not make a bad problem worse? There will be a need for an increase in state employees, the unions will not allow most states to just farm the work out to contractors and with some states already on the edge, and one foot on a banana peel, this is an asinine idea that is best left to the sci-fi literature world.

  95. Brilliant idea!

    Brilliant in the sense of being completely retarded to a level transcending human comprehension.

  96. Can I get a grant to make cars that are made of magnets?

    These magnetic cars will be pulled down the road by windmills positioned on the side of the road. Magnets mounted on the twirling blades will provide the motive force.

    Wires hidden in the road (glass or otherwise) will get induced current generating electricity for every magnetic car that drives by, also heating the road, melting the snow, and feeding power to the grid, saving the world, no matter what the temperature.

    Windmills required can be reduced in half by building hills into the system so 50% is all downhill.

    In addition, optional large solar sails can be deployed out the rear of the car to capture solar wind at sunrise and sunset for extra boost.

    I can come up with this crazy crap too… just give me the money.

  97. Simple thermo. Batteries can’t supply enough energy to melt ice on a road or almost anywhere else. The cold ground underneath will suck away that small amount of heat like a sponge unless it’s very well insulated from below.

    First test the scheme (& its economics) on a driveway in a cold climate before risking any large amount of money. I’d love to see the results. Someone where I worked actually did have electric heating-elements embedded in his driveway to melt snow (it was turned “on” only when required). After one winter’s worth of staggering electric bills, he just disconnected it — & that was 30 yrs ago when electric rates were much lower.

  98. Ummm – so what happens to the melted snow (that would be water)? If there are snowbanks on one or both sides, where does it go? Oh, OK, all roads have drainage ditches that will work in sub zero conditions.

    Driving along roads that are a mixture of ice and water – priceless!

    OK, it is easy to make fun of this idiotic proposal, but the real issue is that potentially $750k is available for this boondoggle. That is enough to keep 10-15 families going for a year.

    In hard economic times in the US, why is this happening?

  99. “OK, it is easy to make fun of this idiotic proposal, but the real issue is that potentially $750k is available for this boondoggle. That is enough to keep 10-15 families going for a year.”

    Or feed 1,000-1,500 malnourished children for a year.

  100. A far better way to do heated roads, that has actually been built, used in service in a harsh climate, and refined to sound practice, is a simple asphalt + liquid heat exchange system. Tubes buried well below the surface of the roadway store summer warmth in the soil deep below the road, then tap that warmth as needed to melt snow.

    Search on “heated roads” to get a lot of links. Best research has been done by Ooms Nederland:

    http://www.oomsinternational.com/en/7/301/road_energy_system.aspx

  101. suspect they will test it in San Diego and because there is no snow buildup during winter declare the test a success….

  102. I can see it now, just as the roadway is finished the utility company will come along, as they always do with a freshly paved road, and dig a groove in the side to fix a pipe or a line.

  103. So he understands that roads have a camber to them, and the surface includes both synclastic, and anti-clastic sufaces, and he is going to have modulse that seamlessly transition from one shape to another…

    By the time they roughen the glass surface enough to provide tire traction, it will be too rough to transmit much light in either direction; and just what sort of glass do they plan to use. There are some ordinary window pane type glasses, that you can cut with a pair of ordinary scissors, if you hold it under water; not it doesn’t cut like paper but it does cut.. So their glass is not going to undergo any funny transitions when it is wet ?

    There are whole books of Highway Standards for building roads; yes I actually have a copy of part of it that relate to bridges.

    There’s this think called an H-20 truck, that describes a standard truck that weighs 20 tons. It has two front wheels that must support some number of tons, and I believe 8 rear wheels; I think the split is 4 tons in the front and 16 tons in the back. There’s a slightly reduced tonnage truck, I think it is 14 tons in the back that applies to bridges that are of mixed steel and wood construction; but a steel and concrete bridge calls for the full 20 tons.

    These trucks are so heavy, that you can’t legally drive one on any US highway without a special permit. I know because I had to design a bridge that would support such a truck, even though no such thing could even drive up to my bridge. The design I came up with could take an A-1Abrams Tank on it, and carrying another such tank on top of it. But it would have consumed all the funds I had available to build the bridge, just to have a State Certified civil engineer either certify my plan or come up with his own, that met the spec. My bridge was steel and wood, so it only needed to meet the lighter truck standard; but as I said it went way over the requirement. The water district who’se truck had damaged the existing ALL wooden bridge, declined to accept my bridge, even though THEIR civil engineer, told me it would easily do the job.
    So I simply replaced the broken wooden members of the existing all wood structure, and told the WD, that what their 75 years of right of way gave them the right of access to was an all wooden bridge such as the one they broke; so I just restored it to its pre-damage condition. And then I blocked access to it; for safety reasons, on the grounds that I could not certify that it met the bridge requirement conditions that they laid down; since I did not design the original bridge. The wooden bridge decking used to support railway freight cars for a hundred and fifty years, so I think it will last a while longer.

    It’s obvious from what these rocket scientists are constructing, that they have no clue as to what they are doing. Well I hope they get their patent, and make a fortune off it.

  104. Let’s see, no math in the article, so let’s do some:
    1 inch of fluffy snow on one sq meter of road weighs about 2kg, so let’s melt that inch.

    1 sq meter of solar panels creates about 110 watts of power at noon in summer in northern CA when clean. And PVWATTS tells us the actual generation per day for a flat solar panel in Dec-Jan is 720 W-hr total per month or 23 w-hr/day. Let’s assume that the road is clean, as all roads are, especially in winter when it’s snowing.

    It takes 333 kJ to melt 1 kg of snow. And that 1 sq meter of snow 1 inch deep would weigh about 2 kg… requiring 666 kJ to melt.

    But the solar road only makes 23 w-hr, or 83 kJ per sq meter per day in winter.
    So it would take the solar ice melting road almost a month to melt 1 inch of snow.

    What a BRILLIANT idea, let’s borrow money from the Chinese for it!
    The grandkids can pay it back.

  105. Feet2theFire says:
    February 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    The government might have done something in the ’90s and early ’00s to stop the handover of our jobs, …. And we are all competing with $3.00/day labor in China and $3.00.hour programmers in India. … It will be a generation or two before we get manufacturing back – if ever.

    You’ll never get wages back though. There’s no AGWanker value in just relocating industry. The whole purpose of deindustrialising the West is to bring about the permanent extinction of the “living wage.” (And nobody will be happier than Malcolm Fraser when that day comes.)

  106. This is the very definition of a pipe dream. The construction of these roads would only increase the cost of solar panels because solar panels use rare earth minerals. Where have you heard rare earth minerals in the news lately?

  107. George E. Smith says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    The standard weight limit for semis is 80,000 lbs, 12,000 on the steering axle, 34,000 on the two drive axles and two trailer axles. If you slip into any of the various weigh stations operated by state DOTs on any given day you’ll usually find at least a couple units parked because either through intention or incompetence they were overloaded, sometimes quite seriously. One seriously overloaded semi can inflict major damage to either asphalt or concrete paving because it pushes the paving past its yield point. These dopes seem to draw encouragement from the fact that their are glasses out their that will stop a bullet, but if anyone actually shoots a bullet at it, it will need to be replaced. Stopping a bullet is a piece of cake compared to standing up to continuous truck traffic. Glass can be an amazingly strong material, but these folks evidently never heard of the concept of stress risers. You can cut glass with anything hard enough to make a small scratch in its surface. This thing is so incredibly incompetent that I fully expected to see a line at the bottom that said it came from The Onion News Network.

  108. “”””” Dave Wendt says:
    February 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm
    George E. Smith says:
    February 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    The standard weight limit for semis is 80,000 lbs, 12,000 on the steering axle, 34,000 on the two drive axles and two trailer axles. “””””

    Dave, I can’t comment on your numbers because I have no sources for such data. My comments were ( from memory) simply a description of the “H-20” Truck. No such truck exists. It is a defined hypothetical vehicle; the purpose of which is to use as a load on road and bridge structures, when designing such structures.

    Your “semi” rig, would be 23 tons just for the truck (tow vehicle) which has the same configuration as the H-20; one steering axle, and two driving axles with dual wheels. Of coruse a semi tow vehicle wouldn’t have any 17 tons on the drive wheels unless it was towing a trailer, that provided most of that load.

    So the H-20 is not a semi like vehicle but an ordinary “lorry”.

    OOoops ! I lied; an H-20 truck has a single drive axcle with a 32,000 lb limit (16 tons) and an 8000 lb (4 ton) steering axle limit, for a 20 ton total.

    Note that it has 16 tons on a single drive axle, whereas your semi rig has 17 tons for two drive axles.

    But as I said , the H-20 is a hypothetical structural loading tool, not a real truck, and I believe it is NOT street legal, because of that 16 ton drive axle.

    http://www.precast.org/precast-magazines/2010/07/hl93-truck-loads-vs-hs20-truck-loads/

  109. And that AASHTO is the set of Standards that I had referred to. I only have the one volume; that deals with bridges and the like; they whole set of standards is way beyond my pay scale.

    So if you are designing your own Golden Gate Bridge, instead of having to figure out what the loads and pressures would be with bumper to bumper commute traffic, or whatever; you simply distribute a bunch of H-20 trucks in some described fashion. It sound like the system has gotten considerably more complicated, with the various semi configurations, and of course as they mentioned, the Military loads.

    Hey there is no limit to the ‘stuff’ you can learn at WUWT; stuff that would just go down the boring hole at c-r.

    Do those guys actually imagine that they are performing a public service. Joe Romm and Gavin Schmitt should be totally ashamed of themselves, peddling that abomination as a scientific discussion site.

    I have no idea who Tamino, or Eli Rabbett actually are either in their Puppet guise, or in reality; apparently they do have rather publicly known names. Well I still have no idea who they are; but they evidently have a pretty good idea what their stuff is actually worth; they even put some other name on it.

    Well nobody knows who I am either; and I can even use my real name; but then you can find me standing on a street corner in almost any town anywhere; and I know that I am registered at 85% of all the Motels in the country; maybe only for an hour though.

    I don’t always get my stuff right; or even correct; but as soon as I find out about it, then I change my story; which still may not be correct, but perhaps closer than my first attempt; and I’m not ashamed to put my name to it.

  110. ” Standard Specification for Highway Bridges” , is the document that I have; a big three inch thick 8 1/2 x 11 thee ring binder.

    Note what that short link up above says, about how you use those things. You do not use the 16 tons on the rear axle, to be four 4 ton point loads, on whatever structural surface you are designing; you spread that total over the whole lane width, and the length of the truck; I’ll have to research the document to get the true details on that.

    If each rear tire carried 4 tons or 8,000 # (short tons in British parlance), and the tire pressure was 125 PSI, that says you would need 64 square inches of tire-road contact to carry the weight. I measured some of those dually tires once, and the tread is about 8 inches wide, so the contact patch on the orad would be 8 inches long too. Now because of the rigidity of the tire rubber, the actual contact pressure is somewhat higher, so the contact is actually smaller than that. Then the 125 PSI spec on the tires, is the cold tire pressure, so it likely is 150 PSI or higher at max operating Temperature, which further lowers the road contact.

    But somebody eventually has do do a finite element analysis, of whatever the structural surface is to be sure it is not going to get destroyed at the max operating pressure. And then you have to figure some sort of safety margin. For example, whereas standard structural steel is stated to have a 60,000 PSI strength; one would normally use something like 16,000 PSI as a design maximum, so nearly a 4:1 safety margin. And things can go egg shaped in a hurry, when you get into structures that could buckle.

    These solar roads, are going to be something to behold; then again they are almost certain to be holed !

  111. George E. Smith says:
    February 8, 2011 at 9:11 am

    I wasn’t attempting to challenge your post or the numbers you used, merely to point out one of the many daunting factors these clucks seemed to have dismissed with a magical handwave. I only used your post because your reference to axle weights relates to what I find to be the main difficulty with all these “magic highway” schemes i.e. what happens when you start to run a couple thousand semis over them everyday?

    I was in the highway biz, actually public sector, for many years a long time ago and have found that most people,including engineers who haven’t dealt with it personally and more than a few that have, are totally unaware of the incredible engineering difficulties involved in building a highway that will stand up to modern traffic conditions and the wide variety of weather it will be exposed to.

  112. The idea clearly has merit. It will die a sorry death, however, if it is rushed into implementation without adequate testing of prototypes under a wide array of conditions and abuses, cost/benefit analysis and MANY, MANY failures followed by improved design. I see practical roadways coming of this in a decade; perhaps two decades in cold climates.

  113. “”””” Dave Wendt says:
    February 8, 2011 at 10:40 am
    George E. Smith says:
    February 8, 2011 at 9:11 am

    I wasn’t attempting to challenge your post or the numbers you used, merely to point out one of the many daunting factors these clucks seemed to have dismissed with a magical handwave. “””””

    Dave, I was in no way critical of your post. I realized you were presenting actual figures for what real semis are allowed to do; and I realized that I hadn’t made it clear to the uninformed, that the H-20 Truck was a hypothetical artifact used in road and bridge designs, and not any real truck. So i was simply amplifying your input for those who as you point out see roads as not that big a deal.

    I agree with you; the design of roadways that survive the abuse they get, is no trivial undertaking; which makes this Chritmas tree light highway, even more silly.

  114. Hey, if you can power your house from a car’s fuel cell when that car’s hydrogen tank was filled using grid electricity in the first place, why not melt snow off a road that is getting so little sun energy that snow managed to stick in the first place?

    (In the unlikely case that he won’t be able to fool the gov’t into giving him money, this guy should sell his plans at Instructables, where “the alternator is spinning anyway” is a good enough reason why running your car on hydrogen generated using only the car’s electricity should work.)

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