HB11 signs Australia-Spain bilateral laser fusion deal

Founder and CEO of HB11 Energy Dr Warren McKenzie with cofounder Prof Heinrich Hora (spain)
Founder and CEO of HB11 Energy Dr Warren McKenzie with co-founder Prof Heinrich Hora

Australia’s first laser fusion energy company HB11 Energy has signed a bilateral agreement with the University of Salamanca (USAL) and the Spanish Pulsed Lasers Centre (CLPU), to accelerate laser fusion energy development in Australia and Spain.

The agreement will give HB11 Energy access to Spain’s most powerful petawatt-class laser, operated by CLPU, which uses similar technology to the Livermore National Ignition Facility (NIF) where net energy gain was recently achieved.

Related article: HB11 sets sights on Australian petawatt-class laser facility

The Australian Government, through the Australian Research Council (ARC), has also awarded a $560,000 ARC Linkage grant towards a $1.76 million project for the development of HB11 Energy’s home-grown hydrogen-boron laser fusion, hosted by UNSW and involving collaborators at Macquarie University, University of Bordeaux and Spain’s CLPU.

Accessing CLPU facilities is particularly critical to HB11 Energy—and Australia as a whole— because Australia doesn’t currently have the laser required for this work, whereas the laser owned by CLPU is a short-pulsed variety which is most advantageous for hydrogen-boron fusion.

Conversely, CLPU is particularly interested in HB11 Energy and its Australian and global collaborative network, because it offers a best-practise approach to sourcing clean and affordable energy through laser fusion, and because of the capabilities it has built such as materials and laser target fabrication.

The combination of Spain’s expertise in nuclear science and ownership of ultra-high intensity laser facilities, with Australia’s capability and personnel in laser science and technology, make for a strategically-matched international partnership that will progress science for fusion energy generation, says HB11 Energy.

Dr Warren McKenzie said, “The co-founder of HB11 Energy, Professor Heinrich Hora, first theorised about laser fusion in the late ‘70s and pioneered the field at UNSW Sydney. But the high-powered lasers needed to achieve the hydrogen-boron laser fusion did not exist back then like they do now.

Related article: Nuclear fusion breakthrough: how scientists can turn ignition achievement into a new clean power source

“Partnerships with organisations like the University of Salamanca and the CLPU are crucial for fusion energy research, like the research we will be conducting under the ARC Linkage grant, and beyond.

“Australia needs to build its national laser fusion energy capability if we are going to lead the race towards fusion energy. This partnership is one of the many steps HB11 Energy is taking towards this goal, which will raise the profile of Australian research into laser fusion energy at a time when many governments around the world are planning major international laser fusion programs.”

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