Earth Saving Inventions

7/11/2013

It’s hard to sort the soothsayers from the charlatans when it comes to promises about alternative energy and energy savings, but a couple caught our eye this month. If either lives up to its hype, we’ll have reason to celebrate. For now, let’s just say they’re worth keeping an eye on, until further proof of concept is offered.

 


First is a new solar power technology, just patented by a little known inventor named Ronald Ace. His “solar traps,” according to McClatchy Newspapers, would “vastly outperform current solar technology.” One application: “Ace says that his invention can be used to retrofit conventional nuclear- or fossil fuel-fired power plants to produce electricity at about 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. That alone would be a staggering advance, slashing the average wholesale cost of power by two-thirds and the cost of solar energy by up to ninefold—estimates that Ace calls conservative.”
The McClatchy report continues: “A separate rooftop version, which Ace believes ultimately will power most homes and businesses, would initially provide cheap heating and hot water. Soon, he said, equipment for those traps will be able to convert solar energy to electricity, air conditioning and, if enough panels are installed, to produce excess energy to sell to utility companies.”
Another game-changing prospect was published in Nature Communications. Scientists at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found that certain materials have the ability to absorb large amounts of methane (an especially harmful greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere. Methane currently contributes about 30% of net climate warming, and may get much worse, as polar ice melts—so technological “fixes” such as this one may be necessary for our very survival.

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