Electrical engineer Scott Brusaw and his wife Julie have been developing a project called Solar Roadways, a system of solar panels that could cover roadways, driveways, bike paths and parking lots as a renewable source of energy.
The couple announced the concept of the project four years ago, and have since received two rounds of funding from the Federal Highway Administration, along with a private grant to develop it, according to The Atlantic Cities.
The Brusaws currently have a working prototype made up of hexagonal panels covering a 12-by-36-foot parking lot. The panels also have heating elements for removing snow and ice, as well as LEDs that can create road signage.
Photovoltaic panels are inserted in these hexagons and can absorb energy from the sun, which could put empty parking lots and roads to good use. The couple said driveways and parking lots could connect these panels to homes and businesses, CNET reported.
"A nationwide system could produce more clean renewable energy than a country uses as a whole," Brusaw said. "They have many other features as well, including: heating elements to stay snow/ice free, LEDs to make road lines and signage, and attached Cable Corridor to store and treat stormwater and provide a 'home' for power and data cables."
The hexagonal panels have been tested for traction, impact resistance and load testing, The Atlantic Cities reported.
The prototype is designed to withstand a 250,000-pound load.
Soon to enter Phase 2 testing, Solar Roadways is seeking $1 million in funding on Indiegogo to produce enough solar panels for a prototype parking lot, CNET reported.
Before using the technology on roads, the Brusaws aim to sell the product to individuals.
"We need to make a few tweaks to our product and streamline our manufacturing process so that we can make our panels available to the public as quickly as possible," Brusaw said. "With your help, we can move into manufacturing quickly and begin installing sidewalks, parking lots, driveways, playgrounds, patios, etc., and then when we feel we are ready, we'll begin to install roads and highways."