Inventor's 'refrigeration system' for planet shows promise, but scientists are skeptical

Dec 19, 2008 By Greg Gordon

Ron Ace says that his breakthrough moments have come at unexpected times - while he lay in bed, eased his aging Cadillac across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or steered a tractor around his rustic, five-acre property.



Content from McClatchy-Tribune Information Services expires 90 days after original publication date. For more information about McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, please visit www.mctdirect.com .

Explore further: From 'Finding Nemo' to minerals—what riches lie in the deep sea?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Catching aerosols in a CATS eye

Jul 29, 2013

Quick looks by a special CATS-eye attached to the International Space Station will help scientists catalog and track particles in Earth's atmosphere and act as a pathfinder for a new satellite planned for ...

Melting ice the greatest factor in rising sea levels

Jul 04, 2012

Melting glaciers and ice sheets have contributed more to rising sea levels in the past decade than expansion from warming water, according to modelling in the latest report by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems ...

Water monitor eyes farm runoff in Gulf of Mexico

Apr 10, 2009

(AP) -- A clean water expert at Auburn University hopes a new project that enlists middle and high school students will help reduce farm runoff that is a growing pollution threat to the Gulf of Mexico.

Southern Ocean seals dive deep for climate data

Aug 11, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Elephant seals are helping scientists overcome a critical blind-spot in their ability to detect change in Southern Ocean circulation and sea ice production and its influence on global climate.

Recommended for you

New research reveals Pele is powerful, even in the sky

44 minutes ago

One might assume that a tropical storm moving through volcanic smog (vog) would sweep up the tainted air and march on, unchanged. However, a recent study from atmospheric scientists at the University of Hawai'i ...

Image: Wildfires continue near Yellowknife, Canada

57 minutes ago

The wildfires that have been plaguing the Northern Territories in Canada and have sent smoke drifting down to the Great Lakes in the U.S. continue on. NASA's Aqua satellite collected this natural-color image ...

Excavated ship traced to Colonial-era Philadelphia

2 hours ago

Four years ago this month, archeologists monitoring the excavation of the former World Trade Center site uncovered a ghostly surprise: the bones of an ancient sailing ship. Tree-ring scientists at Columbia ...

Tropical tempests take encouragement from environment

3 hours ago

Mix some warm ocean water with atmospheric instability and you might have a recipe for a cyclone. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Atlanta Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory ...

User comments : 24

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Szkeptik
3.6 / 5 (7) Dec 19, 2008
Water vapor accounts for over 97% of the total greenhouse effect. I too am skeptical of any beneficial - read cooling - effects of it in the atmosphere.
Bob_Kob
2.7 / 5 (13) Dec 19, 2008
I would love it if we never had any more articles that dealt with global warming. So sick of it.
Doug_Huffman
2.2 / 5 (5) Dec 19, 2008
The power required is a pretty straight forward calculation, should be for one "steeped in the science" of globull warning.
Noumenon
2.7 / 5 (12) Dec 19, 2008
GW is an endless source of comedy, with Al Gore the lead clown.
SamCarana
1 / 5 (2) Dec 19, 2008
I've discussed similar ideas for some time, have a look at:
http://geo-engine...ive.html

Cheers!
Sam Carana
Velanarris
3.9 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2008
I have no faith in the AGCC theories out there, they've proven their premises false and tampered with data including the underlying basis for all of the papers published by "recalculating" the CO2 content of the atmosphere pre-industrial revolution as well as using a base stationed on a volcano as the basis for current measurements. That being said, if AGCC is proven to be true, and CO2 is a causation, then this man's idea is the only safe one I've seen. As other posters above me said, H2O is 95% of the greenhouse effect, but it does also have a great regulator in cloud cover and albedo.
marjon
3.7 / 5 (9) Dec 19, 2008
The earth will do that itself as it warms. Increasing temperatures evaporate more water, warmer air has more capacity to hold water vapor, more water vapor creates more clouds/precip rebuilding glaciers in high elevations, ....

No need to waste energy spraying more water vapor in the air.
vlam67
2.2 / 5 (9) Dec 19, 2008
This promising idea will be shot Down in no time flat, as history had consistently shown that "bona fide" scientists who have tenures and reputations can't allow smart arses to provide solutions before they do. It's bad for them. Who cares if the solutions are 10,20,100 years late? The standing, the prestige, the down payment on the mortgages and SUVs are NOW.
MikeB
3.8 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2008
This like any other engineering solutions will be ignored and ridiculed by the IPCC. The IPCC wants nothing but complete control over the energy output of the Earth.
Velanarris
3.3 / 5 (12) Dec 19, 2008
Once real effects of global warming become too obvious for even you dummies to deny, this will likely turn out to be the solution required.


Oh look guys, name calling. the cornerstone of a successful and well founded point of view.
moebiex
3 / 5 (7) Dec 19, 2008
It doesn't sound there's any potential for it to mitigate ocean acidification which is where all sorts of problems and unintended consequences reside. We still need lower impact energy- too bad the carbon-based energy lobby is dead set against it.
NeilFarbstein
1.2 / 5 (9) Dec 19, 2008
while Aces theories are interesting, he lacks proof and it seems that none of this many patents have been practical successes. I have invented many possible geoengineering type solutions to the greenhouse effect that I feel should be used if the greenhouse warming gets totally out of control.
I plan on collecting my posts to this forum and others and publishing a book.
Greenhouse theorists and geoengineers can contact me at
protn7@att.net
http://vulvox.tripod.com
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2008
while Aces theories are interesting, he lacks proof and it seems that none of this many patents have been practical successes. I have invented many possible geoengineering type solutions to the greenhouse effect that I feel should be used if the greenhouse warming gets totally out of control.
I plan on collecting my posts to this forum and others and publishing a book.
The whole idea of keeping humidity in the air instead of letting it rain might also be accomplished by weather manipulation. There is a part of Africa where desertification is accelerating since rain clouds have tended to release less water as rain. That phenomenon is notable since rain that used to fall on Africa is instead contributing to hurricanes in the gulf, including hurricane Katrina that destroyed new Orleans. Ace's method of putting water vapor into the air may have the same effects, dumping more water onto the gulf states and increasing the ferocity of hurricanes there.
Greenhouse theorists and geoengineers can contact me at
protn7@att.net
http://vulvox.tripod.com

Corvidae
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2008
Once real effects of global warming become too obvious for even you dummies to deny, this will likely turn out to be the solution required.

You're assuming it would still be a viable solution at that late of a date. Personally I'm betting there will be deniers riding gondolas down the streets of Miami.
smiffy
4.4 / 5 (7) Dec 20, 2008
Has anyone considered what happens to the salt?

Two thoughts spring to mind.

1) Will the salt form into tiny particles that can be wind-borne to land, thereby creating problems for agriculture, not to mention pollution of local water supplies? If the evaporation is carried out upwind of low rainfall areas this effect would be aggravated.

2) How are they going to keep the nozzles clean? The nozzles would have to be quite fine to get the water into small enough droplets to fully evaporate from a height of 200 feet. Spraying the water from a much higher height, allowing wider nozzles, would increase the energy costs.
smiffy
4.6 / 5 (5) Dec 20, 2008
Apologies - forget point 2).
I was relying on memory from yesterday when I read the article. When I go back now I can see that he plans to use sea-level wide-aperture jets. I'm blaming it on the new format! It's now so slow and clunky (using Opera) that I didn't thoroughly check the article out, as I certainly should have done.
pzcom
4 / 5 (9) Dec 20, 2008
Dr. Jack Wheeler already invented a cure for global warming. It costs nothing, and actually saves airlines money. Allow them to use high sulfer fuel at altitude, which leaves large white contrails reflecting the sunlight back into space, but too high to cause acid rain.

Easy stroke of the pen fix, but it smacks the global warming hoax right where it lives by allowing those evil jets to solve the problem.
Wicked
3.8 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2008
Wait.. Ace's plan worked in the simulation? That's good enough for me then.
thermodynamics
4 / 5 (4) Dec 21, 2008
I can't address a lot of the issues (salt, nozzles, locations, etc...) involved in Ace's plan, but I can address the heat transfer and thermodynamics of the proposal.

There is a basic problem with the concept. The problem is that the amount of H2O in the atmosphere is not controlled by emissions, it is controlled by weather and the total energy available in the water and air.

What happens is that when H2O evaporates it takes some energy with it (latent heat of vaporization) which it takes from both the water and the air (local cooling). When it condenses it releases the same amount of heat (there are some differences depending on the conditions at the point of evaporation and condensation but lets call them the same for this order-of-magnitude estimation) back to the surroundings where the condensation takes place. What that means is that you cool where you evaporate and heat where you condense. There is no net cooling, instead there is local cooling.

A good example would be a swamp-cooler (which I used when I lived in Nevada) which cools the house it is mounted on by evaporating water locally. It is very effective at cooling a house in Las Vegas. However, that raises the water vapor content of the air so that a small amount more snow might fall in Denver when that air passes over Denver and drops a good chunk of the water vapor present in the air. The amount of water evaporated to cool my house is noise level with respect to the total amount of water vapor in the air that eventually drops rain on Denver, but there is a calculable (not measurable) heating effect where the condensation takes place.

When you put the water into the atmosphere it locally raises the amount in the air to a point near saturation. However, as the air moves, carrying the water vapor, it comes into other micro-climates where it might rain or snow (what happens to any moist air). So, you can locally cool, and then, inevitably, locally heat. No net change for the earth, but an increase in transport from one location to the other.

This is exactly what happens when the earth does heat (due to natural climate change or "AGW"). The water vapor moves a lot of energy from one point to another, balancing the heat gain and moving the energy from the equators to the poles but not changing the net energy due to evaporation and condensation (I am not addressing radiation, clouds, or particulates here although I will touch on clouds below).

Water is the most potent GHG because it is a good IR absorber and is abundant. However, we don't have a runaway greenhouse effect due to water vapor on the planet because it is not a "permanent" gas on the earth (here permanent does not mean it cannot change form such as CH4 becoming H2O and CO2, but rather that it is not condensable at normal earth temperatures). Instead, what happens it that the earth rapidly balances water as vapor, liquid, and solid. The problem with the proposed approach (from an heat transfer perspective) is that it does not produce a net change in the global temperature, it just redistributes the energy.

Here is where clouds come in. If there is enough additional water it will affect local cloud cover. However, the amount of water vapor will rapidly equilibrate with the local climate. If that is not taken into consideration, no one can discuss the radiation balance (and I don't think any of the models do this very well).

I have to assume the "simulation" that showed it worked, did not take into consideration local weather and did not look at the global balance. I do wish they were more explicit about the basis assumptions for the "simulation."

The bottom line. Thermodynamically and heat transfer wise there will be no net effect from the latent heat of vaporization and condensation (which seems to be the basis for his patent). The effect of IR absorption will be local only. The other aspect of albedo (due to cloud cover) is an open question that would have to be answered but looking from the perspective of local equilibration I would bet is minimal (yes, I do bet now and then based on minimal data to produce what we call an EWAG "Engineering Wild ASS Guess"). So, no net effect for the basis of the patent (latent heat of vaporization), local effect only for IR balance, and an EWAG that cloud cover will probably not be substantially affected due to the ineffectiveness of the evaporative cooling (total energy is the basis for total cloud cover).
hankwilliams
3 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2008
um, if the salt-water got higher then the ozone layer.. would there be phtons with high enough energy to split the sodium chloride molecules? having lots of cl- in the atmosphere wouldnt be to fun. but i guess being its ionic bond it should be pretty safe.. i assume they did the math on that one.
Velanarris
5 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2008
um, if the salt-water got higher then the ozone layer.. would there be phtons with high enough energy to split the sodium chloride molecules? having lots of cl- in the atmosphere wouldnt be to fun. but i guess being its ionic bond it should be pretty safe.. i assume they did the math on that one.

You're about 20-40km off distance wise.
ArtflDgr
4 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2008
this is equivalent to trying to homogenize the weather aroudn the world. or in other words making the living room clean by putting the dirt in the bedroom... duh
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2009
flush it down the toilet (in the bedroon)
QubitTamer
1 / 5 (1) Feb 25, 2009
Nuclear War! Nuclear Winter! Solve two, no THREE (COUNT EM!!! THREE!!!) problems at the same time!

1) Nuclear arsenals are too expensive to maintain but we can't just throw ours away so we should just ATTACK NOW!

2) The resultant nuclear Winter INSTANTLY solves Global Warming!!

3) Mankind has proven to be a fatal virus on the face of the planet so by eradicating ourselves NOW we end up saving the planet for the bees and worms and such! Except for Al Gore! He's the only one of us worth saving!