Stephen Horvath | Biography
Stephen Horvath - engineer, inventor and self-educated scientist has devoted most of his life to researching fusion with a single purpose in mind: solving the world's energy needs through muon-catalysed fusion.
Born in Hungary in 1929, Stephen was a bright and inquisitive child who was always fascinated by how things worked, particularly engines. He read voraciously and was privately schooled before studying general aeronautical engineering at Budapest University.
World War II brought Stephen's university days to an abrupt end when he fled to Austria and immigrated to Australia under a refugee programme in 1949.
Once in Australia, Stephen re-commenced his studies via correspondence from the British Institute of Engineering Technology. During the early 1950s, he began working in a series of factories where his technical prowess and inventiveness quickly became apparent. He devoted his time to creating various devices to facilitate tasks and to improve numerous pieces of mass machinery.
It didn't take long for one of Stephen's BIET teachers to recommend him to the De Havilland Aircraft Corporation in 1956 where he began work as an engineer converting the Sea Venom Jet Fighter into a two-seat trainer for the Australian Navy.
In 1959, Stephen was appointed Senior Design Engineer at Borg Warner where he was responsible for tooling, assembly and testing of the BW35 Automatic Transmission.
Throughout this period, Stephen was often frustrated by the fact it was difficult to source adequate power for the engines and machines he designed. He continued to read and further his knowledge in the fields of nuclear physics and energy - where his true interest lay.
In 1970/71 Stephen established his own design consultancy, Engineering Design & Development (ED&D), which was a contract design firm responsible for many, many inventions including production tooling for the British Motor Corporation (BMC); tooling for the first plastic agitator in washing machines and a spaghetti machine. Profits from ED&D were ploughed into Stephen's fusion research, which was gaining momentum.
During 1974, Stephen set up Access Control Systems, once again with the goal of exploiting his inventiveness to raise sufficient capital to further his fusion concept. He developed an ingenious electronic access control system which is now used in many banks and high security facilities worldwide and which is essentially the great grandfather of the plastic cards we swipe today to open doors, access lifts and so on.
In 1978, Stephen sold Access Control Systems and founded Horvath Energy Australia (HEA), a business tasked with engineering his muon-catalysed fusion dream. By now, Stephen's love of science had well and truly overcome his desire to work as an engineer and HEA marked the beginning of a more than 20 year full-time research journey which would take Stephen around the world and put him in touch with some of the brightest minds in the energy field.
By 1979, Stephen had developed the prototype for a car powered through fusion-enhanced hydrogen burn as part of his ongoing research into alternative fuel sources. When the then Queensland Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen learned of the project, he invited Stephen to display his work publicly. Unfortunately, Sir Joh's foresight to bring about a pollution free hydrogen economy has not eventuated as yet.
As a result, an announcement was made which put Stephen in an awkward position, since he knew his work was incomplete and he had never wanted to promote the "hydrogen car" project as a finished product.
Nature is not very kind to inventors and entrepreneurs, not all of the innovative ideas have come to fruition - although each one has deepened Stephen's knowledge and understanding of his ultimate scientific goal - to unlock the secret to releasing energy via sustained muon-catalysed fusion.
Another catalyst for the next stage of Stephen's muon-catalysed fusion work was a fortunate introduction, soon after establishing HEA, to Sir Ernest Titterton, then Foundation Professor to the Chair of Nuclear Physics at Australian National University.
Sir Ernest was one of the key scientists on the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atom bomb and he became Stephen's mentor, teaching him how to develop nuclear systems and sharing Stephen's belief that nature should take priority over force - a philosophy Stephen has applied throughout his career and which is key to his muon-catalysed fusion research.
Stephen's friendship with Sir Ernest Titterton was a meeting of the minds, and a forum for sharing ideas and it continued until Sir Ernest's death on 8 February 1990.
The relationship gave rise to a number of opportunities including an invitation for Stephen to test his prototype reactor at a secure facility at the UK Atomic Research Establishment at Harwell.
In late 1983, Stephen travelled extensively in the USA, discussing his work with the energy world's elite at Los Alamos, German Town (Department of Defence) and in early 1988 New Mexico (Department of Energy); as well as meeting with Vice President George Bush, his energy advisors from the Departments of Energy and Defence to talk about his work.
In 1989, after extensive discussions with General Electric, in Schenectady, New York, Stephen was invited to secretly test the second prototype reactor at their facility.
The next step for Stephen was to design an enhanced reactor. In 1998, he formed Star Energy as the patent holder and developer of the final stage of the fusion development. He began assembling the requisite testing equipment and enlarged system to produce a commercial device to demonstrate energy release via muon-catalysed fusion.
In 2004, Star Energy changed its name to Star Scientific and Stephen entered the final testing phase for his muon-catalysed fusion generator. While many of Stephen's contemporaries have headed in different directions, abandoning muon-catalysed fusion as too difficult and riddled with unsurmountable problems, Stephen Horvath has continued on. His beliefs in nature, in the science and in himself have kept him utterly focused on his ultimate goal and he firmly believes muon-catalysed fusion will herald the beginning of a new era for our planet.
Stephen has been married for 60 years and has two children, Stephen (Jnr) and Andrew, both of whom have been closely involved with the fusion project since childhood.