Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sandpoint innovators’ solar road panels remove snow, generate power

 The Spokesman-Review

Solar Roadways co-founders Julie and Scott Brusaw stand by a demonstration pad of their solar roadway tiles.
(Full-size photo)
Prototype online
Take a look at the prototype parking lot or on Facebook at Solar Roadways.
Additional coverage
Read past coverage of Solar Roadways.
The streets of Sandpoint may soon lead to an energy revolution.
The city is on track to be the first to replace a traditional road surface with super-strong, textured glass panels that harness solar power.
The 1-inch-thick panels developed by Scott and Julie Brusaw of Sagle, Idaho, will melt snow and ice, power LED lights embedded in the roadway and generate electricity. The city is getting ready to apply for a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to use the technology in a test project downtown.
“We want to do a sidewalk and a driving section,” City Engineer Kody Van Dyk said. “That way we can demonstrate which one works best, which one has best opportunity for viability, and see what the constructability issues are.”
The Brusaws recently built a small parking pad next to their workshop using 108 of the hexagon-shaped panels. The pad remained free of snow and ice through the North Idaho winter, said Scott Brusaw, an electrical engineer. The couple also have submitted prototype panels for strength and endurance testing.
“We know how to make it now, so we need to gear up for manufacturing and start making these things,” he said.
Brusaw envisions beginning with a small manufacturing operation in Sandpoint within the year, then opening a larger plant in Coeur d’Alene or Spokane as interest in the product grows.
“We’ve got people waiting to order these things. And once we get it perfected … it will be time to open that big plant,” he said. “I’ve got the feeling we’re just going to get nailed with orders left and right.”
Next week the couple will begin raising money through the crowd-funding site to launch the manufacturing phase. Their company, Solar Roadways, is a private corporation.

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