Episode 79: Dr Warren McKenzie on Nuclear Fusion

Net Energy Gain, Climate Change and Laser Industries

Last month, scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a defence facility that sits under the US Department of Energy, announced that they had achieved a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than it took to ignite it, using high-powered lasers. The announcement was both celebrated as a milestone in science and criticised as an overhyped media spectacle. In this episode of the [i3] Podcast, we speak with Dr Warren McKenzie, founder and Managing Director of HB11 Energy, an Australian nuclear fusion company, about the importance of the experiment, the relevance to fighting climate change, the need for a domestic laser industry and investment opportunities relating to nuclear fusion energy generation. 

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Overview of Warren McKenzie Podcast

01:00 About HB11 Energy
03:00 Scientists in the US have achieved a net gain in energy from nuclear fusion. How important is that result?
04:30 We were the first fusion company to demonstrate any fusion
05:50 The next results in the years to come are going to make massive increases on that net energy gain
06:00 Essentially they are creating a mini star
08:00 This is not the path to clean energy. It has proven the science that will lead to many advancements in technology that [ultimately] will see it happen. There are a lot of technologies around the edges that need to be improved.
10:00 The benefits of Boron: we have a much easier engineering pathway ahead of us
12:35 Lasers are the key to making nuclear fusion happening
17:00 There is a whole range of new applications that have recently been proven that have been enabled by these high-powered lasers
18:00 Rather than having a laser that pulses a few times a day and then needs to cool down, we need a laser that can pulse 10 or 100 times per second, 24/7
20:00 What key industries will grow around a nuclear fusion industry that might be interesting to investors? The main driver will be defense
21:45 It is not secret that Lawrence Livermore is a defense lab
22:30 For the infinite money that is available to these labs, I would like to see them put more into green energy than just into making sure that the world is a little scared of the US’ nuclear stockpile
23:00 From boron you can’t make a bomb
24:00 Will nuclear energy help with fighting climate change?
26:00 We will definitely see energy being generated by nuclear fusion by 2050
28:00 To accelerate the development of nuclear fusion, we need to lift the ban on nuclear research in Australia
30:00 Breaking the vacuum of space
32:00 Australia developed 90 per cent of the technology that is in solar cells today, but China has led the commercialisation. Let’s not have the same thing happening with nuclear fusion


[i3] Insights is the official educational bulletin of the Investment Innovation Institute [i3]. It covers major trends and innovations in institutional investing, providing independent and thought-provoking content about pension funds, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds across the globe. The [i3] podcast is available on iTunesGoogle PodcastSpotifyAmazon MusicStitcher or your favourite podcast platform through RSS: https://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:330217403/sounds.rss