Awesome Stuff: Alternative Energy

from the solar-freaking-roadways dept

For this week's Awesome Stuff post, we've got three separate projects that have something to do with alternative energy -- some more ambitious and nutty than others.
  • First up, we've got Trinity - The Portable Wind Turbine Power Station. Usually, when people think of personal alternative energy sources, solar is the first thought. However, these guys have built what appears to be a relatively small wind turbine power station. They describe it as portable, though that may depend on your definition of portability. If you have a big bag it'll work, but it's not something you'd slip in your pocket. Oh yeah, also, you need wind. Of course, since it also has a fairly massive 30,000 mAh battery, in many cases, it may act more as just a typical portable battery rather than a wind turbine. But, still, how often do you get to say you've got a wind turbine to charge your phone? Wind freaking turbine.
    This project is over 150% funded... (up around $75,000 on a $50,000 target) and it's ending in just a few hours, so if you want one of the original batch, jump in now. It'll cost you $279 (at the currently available "early bird" level) which is certainly pricey if it were just the battery. But, if you're looking for a personal wind turbine, I'm not sure you'll do much better -- well, unless you want to build your own.
  • Okay, moving a bit more into more traditional alternative energy, there's the SPOR Solar Battery charger. Yes, portable solar chargers aren't particularly new, but this one seems nice and compact. The creators of this project point out that they were going for a Goldilocks-level solution -- something in between the chargers that are too big and bulky and the useless keychain-sized ones. This one is looking for the sweet spot.
    This is already more than 1/4 funded (goal of $100,000) with a month to go, suggesting it's fairly likely to meet its goal. As I type this there are still some early birds left at $40, but after that the price goes up to $50.
  • If we're going to talk solar, why not go big. Super big. Crazy, ridiculous big. You may have heard about this project, because it's gotten some press, but some big dreamers are working on a project to build solar freaking roadways. If you replaced the roads with solar power, you'd be able to generate quite a lot of power -- as well as making the roads much smarter, including variable road lines, automatically melting snow and ice, and even analyzing and treating stormwater for pollution. It's a crazy ambitious goal, but quite cool too. As they repeat in their pitch, it's solar freaking roadways. And they've actually already received two rounds of funding from the US Federal Highway Administration, and a variety of other grants and prizes, including being chosen by Google as one of their "Moonshots."
    Obviously, they're not looking to Indiegogo crowdfunding for everything they need, but they are looking for more support to bring the project closer to reality. And they're getting it. With three weeks left, they've already raised about $1.7 million, well over the initial $1 million goal.
That's it for this week. Go out and enjoy some sun and wind.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2014 @ 11:49am

    Solar roadways sound impressive until they do an emergency stop test on their prototypes, at which point I expect nothing but bad things to happen. The technology isn't there yet, and there are far more efficient and cheaper ways to use solar panels.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    That One Guy (profile), May 31st, 2014 @ 1:06pm


    If the tech 'isn't quite there yet', then you do what they're doing, throw money into R&D and testing to see what parts still need work so it can be fixed/improved, not just drop it.

    The first will get something done, even if it's just finding out what parts of the plan aren't feasible with current technology, the second, not so much.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2014 @ 4:58pm


    I must call BS on the solar roadways, it isn't cost effective, dust will grind the glass until it turns opaque, the underground power-lines are way more expensive than conventional overhead cables, LED's wont be visible on sunny days, etc.

    As a civil engineer I agree with the video.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Emelio Lizardo, Jun 1st, 2014 @ 7:04am

    Umm,just a little bit of though give to the solar roadways will reveal that it's inane. Please edit your article to reflect the inanity. For a more in depth analysis of this stupidity refer to this link:


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    John (profile), Jun 1st, 2014 @ 10:42am

    Roadway traffic

    The Federal roadways are mandated to be the life line for
    military equipment including tanks, you know those HEAVY things. Run a tank or two over the hexagons and see what works or not. Now try three abreast and 10 in length, the roadbed would be rubbish.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2014 @ 9:23pm

    Re: Roadway traffic

    You run 30 tanks over any existing roadway around here and you will destroy the roadbed. Even if you left the interstates alone there are plenty of state highways, local roads, parking lots etc where the military equipment would not be an issue.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2014 @ 9:31pm

    from the FAQ:
    Everyone naturally pictures sliding out of control on a smooth piece of wet glass! Actually, one of our many technical specs is that it be textured to the point that it provides at least the traction that current asphalt roads offer - even in the rain. We hesitate to even call it glass, as it is far from a traditional window pane, but glass is what it is, so glass is what we must call it.

    We sent samples of textured glass to a university civil engineering lab for traction testing. We started off being able to stop a car going 40 mph on a wet surface in the required distance. We designed a more and more aggressive surface pattern until we got a call form the lab one day: we'd torn the boot off of the British Pendulum Testing apparatus! We backed off a little and ended up with a texture that can stop a vehicle going 80 mph in the required distance.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2014 @ 9:42pm

    Re: Roadway traffic

    From the FAQ:
    Can your Solar Roadways handle army tanks?

    Our current M1A2 Abrams tank weighs about 68 tons, or 136,000 pounds. That's a little over half of what our Solar Road Panels have passed load testing for.

    When I was in the Marines, I was temporarily assigned to a supply company in Japan. I issued tank tracks with rubber "feet" which allowed the tanks to drive down the highways without causing significant damage to the asphalt. The Solar Roadways will have no problem handling a convoy of tanks!


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Ehud Gavron (profile), Jun 1st, 2014 @ 9:57pm

    An article that analyzes solar roadways

    This article really takes the analysis further.
    - who will fund it
    - if the regular roads can't be maintained who will put in solar panels
    - why not use ALL THE UNUSED AREAS before replacing used areas like roadways
    - solar panels that lay flat and collect rubber and grime are guaranteed to be less efficient than those on roofs that point at the sun

    etc. egogo-is-actually-really-silly



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Mark Christiansen, Jun 1st, 2014 @ 10:07pm

    30,000 mAH Battery!

    Why not make it a 30,000,000 uAH battery?

    Or 30,000,000,000 nano-amp-hour battery?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    ChrisB (profile), Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 6:18am

    Re: Re:

    The only thing I like about this project is it is NOT funded by government. It is very likely to fail, but I'd rather it fail with private money, not my tax money.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

    Rorger Edwards, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 8:41pm

    Deleted Comment

    why was my previous comment deleted.....


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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