Just Follow the Solar Brick Road

August 27, 2008

As reported in Huffington Post  Green


Modelslab Last week, in case you missed it, Zurich hosted an International Society for Asphalt Pavements symposium. Now, before you go scurrying off, consider what you’ll be stepping (or rolling) on. Concrete production not only accounts for a surprisingly hefty chunk of carbon dioxide emissions, but it just sits there. Fortunately, ISAP is devoted to figuring out how asphalt can be more environmentally-friendly and serve as more than just a smooth surface. 

Rajib Mallick, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (pronounced “Wuster” or “Wista,” depending on where you’re from), took the symposium as an opportunity to present a concept he’s been working on for the past two years with Novotech, Inc., an infrared and semiconductor technology company. Using an existing parking lot or asphalt surface, the new system would be installed during a resurfacing. A special piping network runs through the new pavement and as cool water runs through it, the water is heated and can be used for electricity generation. “The system cost is around $20-$50 per square meter and has the capability to generate up to 800 kilowatt hours a day six months a year in New England,” Mallick says.

Since so many parking lots and roadways already exist, Mallick expects the solar collector costs to be orders of magnitude lower than the cost to produce traditional solar cells. Lab tests showed that the system can reduce the heat island effect commonly found in urban areas. Summer is quickly fading now, but I haven’t forgotten the blistering heat radiating from New York City’s streets. Next up for Mallick and his team: securing more funding and getting the concept off the ground. Or, rather, in the ground.

Our Perspective:

The evolution of alternative energy is taking many roads. I don’t believe there is just one answer. Given the vision of energy independence there are many options. I saw this article and found it to be interesting and wanted to share it with you.

Let us know your thoughts? You can email george@hbsadvantage.com

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