Capturing Energy from Asphalt Roads
Asphalt roads throughout the country are notorious for soaking up the sun’s rays, sometimes making cities uncomfortably hot during the summer. Now, new piping technology from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Massachusetts, is offering a way to trap heat and use it elsewhere, potentially transforming blacktopped streets into giant solar energy collectors.
It works by using the sun-warmed asphalt to heat water pumped through tubes embedded a few inches below the road surface. This has dual effects of cooling the asphalt, thus prolonging the lifespan of the road, and heating circulating water to produce electricity. Costs relative to potential returns have yet to be quantified.