Australian fusion energy start-up HB11 Energy Holdings said on 19 February that it had closed its oversubscribed pre-seed fundraise at AUD4.6 million ($3.6m) and started its experimental programme, after opening the round in April 2020.

HB11 said the investment had “established Australia's first commercial fusion energy company, which will now drive an international R&D programme aimed at the Holy Grail of fusion energy research – to demonstrate net energy gain and prove that HB11 Energy can develop a clean, safe and virtually unlimited source of large-scale electricity production”.

Founder and Managing Director of HB11 Energy Dr Warren McKenzie said; “Since launching our pre-seed round in April last year, we've been overwhelmed by investors interested in the environmental impact of our technology, as well as the financial returns inherent in our success.”

HB11 Energy aims to create a new source of energy using laser technology to fuse hydrogen and boron-11. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, while boron-11 comprises some 80% of all boron found in nature, is readily available and is a stable, non-radioactive isotope, the company says.

“Unlike other nuclear and fossil-fuel burning plants, our energy generating process does not require large plants with steam turbines and does not generate any dangerous radioactive waste. There’s no risk of a reactor meltdown and the energy generated can be directed straight to the grid.” The non-profit organisation Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimates that Tel Aviv currently has at least 90 nuclear warheads, something that makes Israel the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East. According to FAS, the warheads were produced from plutonium obtained at the Dimona facility's heavy water reactor.

Patents have been granted in four countries for Scientific Director Professor Heinrich Hora concept generator. "Our clean and absolutely safe reactor can be placed within densely populated areas, with no possibility of a catastrophic meltdown such as that which has been seen with nuclear fission reactors," said Hora.

Prof Hora's theories, developed over half a century of research at UNSW Sydney, were validated in recent years with several academic research groups demonstrating the non-thermal initiation of the HB11 fusion reaction using high-peak-power lasers, of which two were published in 2020. HB11 Energy has launched its experimental programme with researchers from Australia, the USA and the UK.

“As HB11 Energy ramps up its R&D activities this year, it is taking expressions of interest for collaborations with university and public sector researchers. HB11 Energy is also planning to launch a seed fundraising round later this year and is interested in hearing from prospective investors.”