Pavement energy harvesting technologies: a critical review
Keywords:energy harvesting, photovoltaic road, solar thermal systems, piezoelectric road, heat pipes, thermoelectric generators
The world energy consumption is constantly increasing and the research point towards novel energy harvesting technologies. In the field of pavement engineering, the exploitable sources are the solar radiation and the vehicle load. At present, these systems are able to convert the sunlight into electricity thanks to some solar cells placed under a semi-transparent layer (photovoltaic roads), or they can harvest thermal heat by means of solar thermal systems. The thermal gradient of the pavement can be exploited by thermoelectric generators, by heat pipes or by heat-transfer fluids (i.e. water) pumped into a medium (asphalt solar collectors, porous layer or air conduits). The traffic load can be exploited by piezoelectric materials, able to convert the vehicle load into an electrical charge.
The aim of this paper is to describe the main pavement energy harvesting technologies, pointing out positives and negatives and providing indications for further optimizations. Finally, the systems are compared in terms of initial cost, electrical output, efficiency and technology readiness level.
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