Out of Your Current Projects, Which Ones Excite You?

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Few years ago we decided to take a real hard look at energy and the environment. I can't say that we were unique in that of course, almost any thinking person knows that we have some pretty severe problems coming in the energy and the environment. As seen on the energy industry tends to be very, very focused on immediate results.

For an industry that's so large you might think well, where's the huge RND budget that goes into new kinds of energy systems and the answers there really isn't very much one. The government supports energy research but very sporadically. In 1973 I was in high school and there was the first big Arab oil embargo and the first energy crisis.

And there's lots of government money for RND projects and within a couple of years the crisis is over, the funding stops, oops! So anyway, we decided to focus on energy inventions and we've got a bunch of very exciting ones. One really dramatic thing is we've invented a fundamentally new kind of nuclear power reactor.

And it's a lot of properties that make it very different from reactors of the past. The single best one is, we burn nuclear waste as fuel. So all that waste that's piling up in all of these reactor sites and nobody knows what to with, we can turn that into fuel. In fact we can power America for, basically all of America energy need for another 100 years just based on the waste currently have.

We have taken the invention up to a certain point. We spend them off to a company called Terra Power, and now we're trying very daunting process of saying let's get our reactor built. And it's daunting because there's a lot of technical risk but nuclear is a funny topic. There is lots of political risk, and regulatory risk.

And oops!! Japan has a tsunami. Now, that's not surprising, tsunami is a Japanese word. And the coast of Japan is terribly prone to tsunamis. Well, someone made the stupid decision to build a 1960s slide rule era reactor directly on the coast, and he decided to do that with a very low seawall such that even a small tsunami would cripple it.

They've got a medium sized and it was not big. Within the last 100 years at the same coast of Japan has been hit by tsunamis vastly worse. So, why would you do this? I don't know, but somebody did it. And that decision which by the way it was made in the 1960s. That decision all of a sudden oops came to haunt us.

But the thing we like about working in the these ambitious energy areas is the world needs a solution, and I can't promise you that my solution will work 100% yet. And I think it will. I'm betting on it, but it's risky. The world needs 10 or 20 guys like me. I'm doing 10 or 20 different things, hoping that if one of them works, it's going to be great.

Maybe two of them will work, even better. But if we all sit back and say gosh, it's risky, I really don't want to try, we're going to be screwed.