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Durable Solar Roads Will Be Tested on Four Continents

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In the search for sunlight-harvesting real estate, one French engineering group is turning to roadways. As Bloomberg reports, Colas SA, a subsidiary of Bouygues, has plans to incorporate super-strong solar panels into pavement around the world.

The team has already designed technology capable of collecting solar energy while supporting heavy tractor-trailers overhead. At the apparatus’s core is a regular solar panel. Colas SA’s Wattway unit has reinforced it with several coatings of different plastics to protect the solar cells inside without blocking the Sun's rays. A layer of crushed glass on top keeps cars from sliding. Wiring in the road routes the power directly to the grid.

Construction of a test site in Tourouvre in Normandy, France began last month. The kilometer stretch of road includes more than 30,000 square feet of photovoltaics, which are predicted to generate up to 280 kilowatts of energy. According to Wattway, that’s enough electricity to power a year’s worth of public lighting in a town of 5000. In addition to supplementing the power grid, Wattway’s solar roads can also charge electric cars, light billboards, and run hydrogen power plants.

Wattway isn’t the first group to come up with the bright idea. Last year, the Missouri Department of Transportation announced plans to build America’s first public solar road along a section of Route 66, and in that same year a solar bike path in the Netherlands generated enough energy to power homes for year. But this latest project is especially ambitious—after building their next two sites in Canada and the U.S., Wattway has plans to test the technology in Africa, Europe, and Japan. They’re installing panels in 100 test sites over the next year with hopes to have them ready for commercial use by 2018.

Before that happens, the group needs to ensure their panels can withstand the weight of traffic. At this point, their panels can hold up beneath an 18-wheeler truck, but Wattway’s chief technology officer Philippe Harelle says they may have worse luck under a snowplow. Cost is another roadblock: Panels used in solar roads are more expensive than the ones used in solar farms. But unlike solar farms, panels embedded in highways take advantage of free space. As Harelle told Bloomberg, “We wanted to find a second life for a road.”

[h/t Bloomberg]

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There’s No Safe Amount of Time to Leave a Dog in a Hot Car
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We often think of dogs as indomitable and durable animals who can fend off attackers, tirelessly chase Frisbees, and even eat poop without digestive consequences.

It’s true that dogs generally have a solid constitution, but that shouldn’t lead you to believe they can endure one of the biggest mistakes a pet owner can make: Leaving them in a hot car, even for a few minutes, puts a dog’s life at serious risk.

Even on relatively cool days with temperatures around 71.6°F, the inside of a vehicle can reach 116.6°F within an hour, as Quartz highlights.

If it’s a scorching summer heat wave, an 80-degree day will see temperatures get up to 99°F in just 10 minutes; a 90-degree day can turn the car into an oven at 119°F in the same amount of time.

Dogs can't tolerate this kind of heat. As their bodies struggle to cool down, the temperature is often more than they can expel through panting and opening capillaries in the skin. If their body reaches a temperature of 105.8°F, they're at risk of heatstroke, which only half of dogs survive. At 111.2°F, a lack of blood circulation can cause kidney failure and internal bleeding. Brain damage and death is very likely at this point. Depending on the outside temperature, it can happen in as little as six minutes. Cracking windows won't help.

Unless you plan on leaving your vehicle running with the air conditioning on (and we don't recommend that), there’s really no safe amount of time to leave a pet inside. If you do come back to find a listless dog who is unresponsive, it’s best to get to a veterinarian as soon as possible. And if you’re a bystander who sees a dog trapped inside a car, alert the nearest store to try and make an announcement to get the owner back to the vehicle. You can also phone local law enforcement or animal control. In some states, including California, you’re legally allowed to enter a vehicle to rescue a distressed animal.

[h/t Quartz]

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Why an Ex-FBI Agent Recommends Wrapping Your Keys in Tinfoil Whenever You Leave Your Car
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A car thief doesn't need to get their hands on your keys to break into your vehicle. If you use a wireless, keyless system, or fob, to unlock your car, all they need to do is steal the signal it emits. Luckily there's a tool you can use to protect your fob from hackers that you may already have in your kitchen at home: tinfoil.

Speaking with USA Today, retired FBI agent Holly Hubert said that wrapping car fobs in a layer of foil is the cheapest way to block their sensitive information from anyone who may be trying to access it. Hackers can easily infiltrate your car by using a device to amplify the fob signal or by copying the code it uses. And they don't even need to be in the same room as you to do it: They can hack the fob inside your pocket from the street outside your house or office.

Electronic car theft is a growing problem for automobile manufacturers. Ideally fobs made in the future will come with cyber protection built-in, but until then the best way to keep your car safe is to carry your fob in an electromagnetic field-blocking shield when you go out. Bags made specifically to protect your key fob work better than foil, but they can cost more than $50. If tinfoil is all you can afford, it's better than nothing.

At home, make sure to store your keys in a spot where they will continue to get protection. Dropping them in a metal coffee can is a lot smarter than leaving them out in the open on your kitchen counter.

[h/t USA Today]

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