Amazing Solar Collector Will Turn Tarmac into Energy

Open Road, ArgentinaImage by: orlando72

Remember those long hot sunny days when you’d walk barefoot across the tarmac only to have it melt between your toes? It was curious even then, how could the road be so tough yet malliable; it was more interesting than gross. Now, melting tarmac has grabbed the attention of researchers.

A team at Worcester Polytechnic Institue (WPI) have discovered a way of using the heat-absorbing properties of tarmac for an alternative energy source. Scientists are developing a solar collector using the road covering, asphalt, potentially turning roads and parking lots into unique sources of electricity and hot water.

The research project is being directed by Rajib Mallick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at WPI.

“Asphalt has a lot of advantages as a solar collector,” Mallick says. “For one, blacktop stays hot and could continue to generate energy after the sun goes down, unlike traditional solar-electric cells. In addition, there is already a massive acreage of installed roads and parking lots that could be retrofitted for energy generation, so there is no need to find additional land for solar farms. Roads and lots are typically resurfaced every 10 to 12 years and the retrofit could be built into that cycle. Extracting heat from asphalt could cool it, reducing the urban ‘heat island’ effect. Finally, unlike roof-top solar arrays, which some find unattractive, the solar collectors in roads and parking lots would be invisible.”

Testing is still in the preliminary stages so we’ll have to wait for a while longer for this new energy source.

Source: Worcester Polytechnic Institute via ENN