A discovery that could give the world access to vast quantities of energy with minimal damage to the climate will be shown off for the first time at a glittering gathering of the famous, rich and influential next Friday night.
Al Gore is to be the star turn at a dinner where guests have paid at least £1,000 a head, and some will have parted with £50,000 for their share of the Aberdeen Angus steak and pink champagne, under the high ornate ceilings of London's Royal Courts of Justice. The combined wealth of the diners has been estimated at £100bn. But the most unusual aspect of the evening is not the price of the tickets but the nature of the floor show. In place of professional performers, the guests will be regaled by people who are not always thought of as entertainers, though some think they are all mad. They are inventive British boffins who care about climate change.
They are hoping that the showcase dinner will knock years off the time it can take for industry to see the mass marketing potential of a new discovery. And the one that will be shown to Mr Gore and fellow guests is highly marketable and could revolutionise the market in clean technology, according to the founder of the British Inventors' Society, Kane Kramer.
Mr Kramer, who was 23 in 1979 when he conceptualised the technology that led to the creation of the first MP3 player, refused to give specific details of the new discovery, or to name the inventor, so as to maintain the element of surprise for Friday. But he indicated that it is a breakthrough in micro-technology, and that British scientists who have tested it are convinced that it will work.
"This is something ... that's the accumulation of almost a decade of work," he said. "It's a new science, a Super Material. It would be 80 per cent cheaper than any alternative means of production, and it will contribute in a major way to reducing climate change.
"I like it because it's kind of lateral. It will make possible things that weren't possible before. We have put it through severe 'due diligence', with quite a team of people, not just in the UK, and we're completely 100 per cent sure that this is the way forward."
There is an old saying that if you invent a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door, but he says the adage is true only for inventions that improve gadgets that are already known to work. Big corporations can be very coy about putting money into something genuinely new. "Business wants to jump on a bandwagon, not build the bandwagon," he said. It is also widely suspected that a lot of energy saving ideas have been bought out by the energy companies precisely to keep them off the market.
But the dinner, organised by a foundation called Fortune Forum, will also be used to launch a new campaigning group called the ICE Circle, whose mission is to put inventors of clean energy technologies in touch with investors to market them. The combination of British inventors and mega-rich philanthropists will be a "marriage made in heaven", Mr Kramer reckons
The driving force behind it is Renu Mehta, theEssex-born daughter of a wealthy textiles importer turned peace campaigner, Vijay Mehda. A year ago, she organised the first Fortune Forum dinner, where Bill Clinton spoke, Yusuf Islam, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, gave his first public performance for more than 20 years, and Michael Douglas and the steel magnate Lashmi Mittal mingled with other guests. The evening raised £1.1m gross, and the net proceeds were distributed to charity.
Last week, she was in Downing Street for talks with Gordon Brown. The dinner should be seen as a campaigning event first, and only second as a fundraiser, Ms Mehda said.
And of course, it offers the rich and the beautiful a great night out where a £25,000 ticket gets you a mention in the brochure and "website recognition", and for £50,000 you can join Al Gore's VIP party.