Tecnalia to Devise System to Collect Solar Energy from Asphalt Paved Surfaces

By passing a fluid through pipes fitted below paved surfaces such as roads, car parks, pavements, airport runways and several other surfaces; solar energy accumulated in pavements can be gathered. This process is similar to a solar collector structured into pavements. There is a greater possibility to recover energy from asphalted paved surfaces since the large paved surfaces under strong sunlight can become as hot as 70° degrees.

Among the many applications of the system, its use as a solar collector is the most effective, whereby it benefits the building sector. By integrating the system with heat pumps and heat storage, the gathered solar energy could be applied for hot water supply, temperature control of buildings, sport and leisure centres and swimming pools, which are low-temperature applications. Another vital application of the system is road safety during winters, wherein it can prevent the formation of ice on the roads by keeping the asphalt’s temperature above freezing levels. In the process, the quantity of salt required to prevent frost formation would also be reduced considerably.

Since the system can help maintain the road surface temperature throughout the year, the appearance of grooves and cracks in paved surfaces is minimal thus reducing the maintenance required for roads. Since the surplus heat from the paved surfaces can be extracted it reduces the urban heat island effect. Thus, by using a renewable source of energy, dependence on fossil fuels and emission of greenhouse gases in to the atmosphere can be reduced.

Through experimental simulations and calculations, Tecnalia’s construction unit is investigating the mechanical and thermal properties of the system with the aim of optimizing the configuration of the system based on the application. The key aspects while developing the system are thermal behavior and structural stability. After the assembly of a prototype installation, the efficiency of the system will be studied further.