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Thread: Collecting heat from roads, for electricity

  1. #1 Collecting heat from roads, for electricity 
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    Roads can get really hot. Parking lots, too. We should collect that heat, and use it for energy. Taking heat and using it to cool our homes makes a lot of sense.

    How is this idea faring in today's laboratories? Is it being developed, or not really?


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  3. #2  
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    Heat at relatively low temperature such as that is called "low grade heat" or "waste heat." Often low grade heat is produced by industrial processes, or in electrical generating plants where it is dissipated in cooling towers. A cogeneration plant is able to use some of the by-product heat for various heating purposes. I don't know of any attempt to recover energy from a hot road or parking lot. It would be difficult because the heat is so widely dispersed.


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  4. #3  
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    Oh, I know... cover all streets and parking lots with a roof of solar panels. Make sure just enough light is let through to avoid the need for artificial lighting. A smart design can diffuse the light, not to irritate drivers by too much shadow and highlight. Use the electricity to power buildings along the road, or power the electric cars at E-stations. Store some of the energy for lighting at night.
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  5. #4  
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    You could also try to put the solar paneling in the road itself and cover it with a really strong, fracture resistant transparent glass or plastic. I am not sure if it exists at all though. The paneling roofs over the road could turn out to be a problem or annoyance for some people.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmatt9876
    You could also try to put the solar paneling in the road itself and cover it with a really strong, fracture resistant transparent glass or plastic. I am not sure if it exists at all though. The paneling roofs over the road could turn out to be a problem or annoyance for some people.
    That could be horrendously expensive. Why not just put it next to the road?
    The wise man believes half of what he reads. If he knew which half to believe, he'd be a much wiser man.
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    For the sake of corsican's argument for collecting heat from the roads, perhaps hot solar panels, heated by the solar heat collected from the roads, will produce more electricity than cooler ones. I do not know this to be a fact though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Incoming Dessert
    Quote Originally Posted by mmatt9876
    You could also try to put the solar paneling in the road itself and cover it with a really strong, fracture resistant transparent glass or plastic. I am not sure if it exists at all though. The paneling roofs over the road could turn out to be a problem or annoyance for some people.
    That could be horrendously expensive. Why not just put it next to the road?
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  8. #7  
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    Geothermal heat pumps might be a more effective way of capturing energy from hot roads and parking lots than solar panels.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Geothermal heat pumps might be a more effective way of capturing energy from hot roads and parking lots than solar panels.
    But what would you use to generate the power?

    Thermal junctions? Gasses pressurized to liquids at 70 F gut turn to gasses at 100F to spin a turbine? What would these gasses be and environmental/health problems once an accident occurred?

    I cannot imagine any payoff being anything positive.
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  10. #9  
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    I wouldn't use it to generate power. I'd suggest investigating the feasibility of using it to heat water for the domestic hot water system of a commercial building. I'm not suggesting it would be cost effective because I haven't done any calculations, so I don't know. However, there are many ground source heat pumps in operation, and if the surface of a parking lot gets hot (which it does in sunny places) it might be a good location for the ground source heat exchanger.
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  11. #10  
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    That's good. Use the heat locally so you needn't generate electricity elsewhere.

    Another: Add a light-reflecting (white) fence, and grow heat-loving crops like tomatoes or watermelons along the roadside. Access would be easy, and no problem tearing that up someday to expand the highway.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Incoming Dessert
    Quote Originally Posted by mmatt9876
    You could also try to put the solar paneling in the road itself and cover it with a really strong, fracture resistant transparent glass or plastic. I am not sure if it exists at all though. The paneling roofs over the road could turn out to be a problem or annoyance for some people.
    That could be horrendously expensive. Why not just put it next to the road?
    There is a company on the east coast that is working on it. They are working with a couple of universities

    Joel
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  13. #12  
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    I recently read an article describing a system to extract electricity from the deformation of the road caused by cars running on it. It seemed to work, but still rather expensive for large scale application.

    I also remember reading something a while ago about using the heat to heat water in a city-wide system, much like sun-boilers on the roof. I don't remember the details though. It has the additional advantage of cooling the road.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bender
    I recently read an article describing a system to extract electricity from the deformation of the road caused by cars running on it. It seemed to work, but still rather expensive for large scale application.

    I also remember reading something a while ago about using the heat to heat water in a city-wide system, much like sun-boilers on the roof. I don't remember the details though. It has the additional advantage of cooling the road.
    The first is like above mentioned schemes to drag energy out of cars; a more efficient embodiment would be harnessing parked cars to treadmills, which they drive. It's a kind of perpetual motion scheme.

    The second is good because it doesn't extract energy the cars then work more to replace.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  15. #14  
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    Ah...geothermal, hello!
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