About 15 years ago, I was sitting in the seat of doom. The centre seat near the back of a large aircraft on the way from London to Singapore.
But what happened next radically changed the outlook for the subsequent eleven and a half hours. And perhaps even for the rest of my life, if this man is right. But back to my story.
The Malaysian man sitting next to me on the flight was the world champion in a very particular type of race. At least, he was the university academic overseeing the team which were world champions at the time. Or so he claimed.
He explained to me how a unique and slightly odd fuel source would soon power the world. It would revolutionise everything that moves, or needs to move. A big call given where we were sitting at the time.
His team, using that fuel source, had won an international competition. A peculiar sort of race. He showed me a picture of a modified moped to prove it.
At the time, I thought the fuel source he was on about was liable to explode. But that’s nonsense, apparently. So far only a refuelling station has exploded here in the UK…
I learned a great deal that flight. As did everyone around us, trying to sleep.
Now, so many years later, it turns out that the Malaysian man was right all along. His much touted fuel source is on the streets, revolutionising many things that need to move. I’ve seen it in London, my birthplace Essen and Japan. An aircraft powered by this odd fuel first flew the year I was born too.
It is three times lighter than traditional jet fuel, but takes up four times more space. In other words, it’s fatter but lighter.
According to our research, just five kilos of it in a car will take you from London to Sheffield and back – with fuel left in the tank.
And, best of all, refuelling is orders of magnitude faster than battery power.
But there’s a big flaw. An underlying problem to the whole thing. Getting your hands on this fuel is rather hard. Unless you’re this company.
Don’t get me wrong, the fuel is abundant. It’s all around us in the UK in particular. In fact, it is the most abundant element in the universe. But it needs to be refined, in a non-technical sense.
And that process is the hiccup. Because it is expensive. For now.
This changes the basic premise of the story. Because if it were possible to generate an efficient amount of this fuel, then it would go on to change the world dramatically.
But is there such a way? Apparently, yes.
Here’s the bit that’ll tickle investors. Even those sceptical of the underlying technology.
If the constraint is not in the viability of the fuel, using it, its efficiency gains, its proof of concept, or any other factor except for generating the fuel itself, then where do you think the investment gains will come from?
If profits come from solving technological problems, then it’s the companies that have the ability to generate the fuel which will profit. Because that’s where the challenge is.
And investing in those fuel-producing companies will be the best way for you to profit from the coming boom too.
Until next time,
Editor, Southbank Investment Research