Maryland inventor claims solar power breakthrough
WASHINGTON — In a U.S. patent application, a little-known Maryland inventor claims a stunning solar energy breakthrough that promises to end the planet's reliance on fossil fuels at a fraction of the current cost — a transformation that could blunt global warming.
Inventor Ronald Ace said his flat-panel “Solar Traps,” which can be mounted on rooftops or used in electric power plants, will shatter decades-old scientific and technological barriers that have stymied efforts to make solar energy a cheap, clean and reliable alternative.
“This is a fundamental scientific and environmental discovery,” Ace said. “This invention can meet about 92 percent of the world's energy needs.”
His claimed discoveries, which exist only on paper so far, would represent such a leap forward that they are sure to draw deep skepticism from solar energy experts. But a recently retired congressional energy adviser, who has reviewed the invention's still-secret design, said it's “a no brainer” that the device would vastly outperform all other known solar technology.
Ace said he is arranging for a national energy laboratory to review his calculations and that his own crude prototypes already have demonstrated that the basic physics for the invention work.
If the trap even comes close to meeting his futuristic vision, its impact could be breathtaking: It could reorder the world's energy landscape, end the global economic drag of soaring energy costs and eventually curb greenhouse gas emissions, which some blame for climate change.
That all might sound rather rosy, because the previously undisclosed invention has yet to be constructed and fully tested. But John Darnell, a scientist and former congressional aide who has monitored Ace's dogged research for more than three years and has reviewed his complex calculations, has no doubts.
“Anybody who is skilled in the art and understands what he's proposing is going to have this dumbfounding reaction: ‘Oh, well it's obvious it'll work,' ”said Darnell, a biochemist with an extensive background in thermodynamics.