Power from the Pavement

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There’s an untapped energy source right under your feet. Plenty (article not available online) reports on a new technology that captures and uses the heat from sun-warmed asphalt. Under the system, water is circulated through pipes embedded in streets, sidewalks, or parking lots, and then used directly for hot-water needs or tapped to produce electricity through a steam-powered turbine. Apart from using otherwise wasted heat energy, the system could help moderate the “urban heat island effect” by reducing pavement temps, adding a new literal twist to the phrase “cooling your heels.” The Roadway Energy System is best suited to hot climates with long hours of sunshine; the clean-tech firm Novotech hopes to begin commercial installations by 2010.

Image by tanakawho, licensed under Creative Commons.

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