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UTSA researchers to advance technology to harvest clean energy from hot pavements

A team of researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in the US have secured funding to further develop their technology which has potential to harvest clean energy from hot pavements.

In 2016, Dessouky and his team developed a thermal energy-harvesting system, which has capacity to convert heat from paved surfaces into electricity.

The technology can produce power from the temperature differential between the surface of the pavement and the lower temperature deeper into the soil.

The team has conducted several tests on the system by installing several prototypes near the Concrete Laboratory on the west side of the UTSA Main Campus.

University of Texas civil and environmental engineering professor Samer Dessouky and his team have now received funding through the strategic alliance between the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute and CPS Energy to further the technology.

The technology will allow paved areas including freeways, airport runways and parking lots to generate electricity. The produced power can be used in rural areas and data collection systems independently of the electric grid.

For the project, drones are being used by Dessouky to map large landscape such as airports and universities where heat is most concentrated in order to implement the new technology.

Dessouky said: “Since airports consist of large areas of concrete pavement, they’re ideal for this kind of technology.

“In a blackout, this could be used as a back-up source of power for illuminating LED at runways and taxiways or could be used as the sole means of lighting rural civilian airport runways.”

The Dessouky’s team includes McDermott professor civil and environmental engineering Papagiannakis and their graduate student Utpal Datta.


Image: UTSA team develops new technology which converts heat from paved surfaces into electricity. Photo: courtesy of The University of Texas at San Antonio.