Building a colorful noise barrier is said to be relatively low cost.

Noise barriers usually aren't easy on the eye, and usually their primary (and only) goal is to dampen loud noise from the busy roads for residents living or working near highways, hence improving their quality of life. Researchers and engineers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have come up with a solution that gives the barriers an alternative function – they are not only to become an attractive part of the local surroundings, but also (and more importantly) a solar powered source of clean energy.

The technology behind the idea is called luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) developed by researcher Michael Debije. LSCs are panels of various colors that receive light from the Sun and re-direct it to the edges of the panels where conventional solar cells harness the solar energy. Each noise barrier is 5 meters wide and 4.5 meters high. Testing period started last month on June 18 and it will last for one year. The test will show how much electricity the new LSC panels are able to generate under various conditions.

"Thanks to their many colors the LSC are visually very attractive, which makes them ideal for use in many different situations in the built environment", said Debije and added that further benefits include low cost production in any desired color. The panels are said to be robust and to work even when the sky is cloudy.

Reports say the initial research shows remarkable results. Namely, 1 kilometer of the solar noise barriers should be able to generate enough electricity to power no less than 50 homes!

July 6, 2015 Living photo: TU/e

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