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    AUSTRALIA - An Energetic Career

    Fall 2013

    Richard Harth

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    Photo: Katie Dutton

    A gold rush for new energy forms is unfolding halfway around the world. Daniel Magasanik (Ph.D. GT '63), a 40-year resident of Melbourne, Australia, is in the thick of it. He works in two of the liveliest—and sometimes contentious—domains: natural gas and renewable energy. 

    "Over the last 30 years, the energy sector has been a rapidly developing, chaotic, and fascinating area," he says. "I wanted to focus my efforts here and apply my expertise."

    Magasanik's interest in energy began during his early schooling at McGill University in Montreal, where he earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering in 1957. After graduation, while working for a petrochemical complex in Louisiana, he accepted a fellowship at IIT's Institute of Gas Technology. After receiving his doctorate, he taught classes and continued to pursue his interests in conventional energy forms as well as clean energy alternatives—particularly fuel cell technology.

    Through a series of unlikely circumstances, Magasanik migrated to Australia in 1969, taking a position with the newly formed Oil and Gas Division of the continent's largest company (now BHP Petroleum of BHP Billiton). "I left BHP in 1972 but stayed in Australia, where I established a consulting firm focusing on natural gas and electricity," he says. "More recently, this has included renewable energy sources and their conversion to usable forms."

    Indeed, McLennan Magasanik Associates was one of Australia's leading consultancies specializing in the energy industries until it was taken over by a large engineering company in 2010. Magasanik was also the foundation director of the Energy Research and Development Corporation, an organization funded by the Australian government, focusing on energy efficiency and reducing environmental impacts. Currently, he works on a part-time basis for Marsden Jacob Associates, offering policy advice, due diligence, strategic planning, feasibility studies, and project implementation.

    As an authority on Australian gas markets, Magasanik has helped to guide gas-fired electricity generation projects for a range of clients in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania, as well as overseas. One such project involved a detailed empirical analysis, leading to the first onshore development of natural gas on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. 

    In Australia, coal still accounts for nearly 80 percent of the country's electricity generation. "We have very high-quality and cheap-to-mine coal—very low in sulfur and reasonably low in ash," Magasanik says. This, combined with high-energy consumption for transportation, has made the country the highest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide among developed countries.

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