A Maryland inventor’s big energy ideas have promise and big ifs

Courtesy of G G McClathy @ Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

WASHINGTON — While scientists are engaged in an all-out, worldwide scramble to avert the energy and climate change crises, the biggest discoveries could come from a surprising quarter: a modest redwood home on a wooded, 5-acre tract in rural Maryland, where a lone inventor toils day and night.

Ronald Ace lacks hefty academic credentials or any of the billions of dollars that have flowed to other researchers. That hasn’t diminished his zeal in a years-long crusade to accomplish what many scientists deem unattainable.

If the 73-year-old inventor is right, he is on the brink of two historic breakthroughs.

If his novel ideas are validated and take hold, they could change the world.

Those are big ifs.

Ace has applied for patents for two inventions that he believes could speed a dramatic transition to cheap and abundant clean energy, shrink oil consumption to a gurgle and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a smidgen of today’s levels.

His “Solar Trap,” first reported by McClatchy in May 2013, has gained some credence from a former solar engineer at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., who did a confidential review and found “no apparent deficiencies.”

Ace calls his flat-panel trap “a fundamental scientific and environmental discovery” and contends that it could collect sunlight at high enough temperatures to shatter the barriers to a solar age. The device can capture more than 90 percent of the rays that hit it, as much as 10 times more than sun-tracking photovoltaic panels being installed around the globe, he said.

More recently, Ace filed a second patent application, for an invention that he touts as likely able to transform heat into electricity with nearly 100 percent efficiency, 20-fold that of comparable devices in the clean-as-you-can-get field of thermoelectrics. Continue reading