new to the labs

Houston clean energy lab names 4 new companies to program

Halliburton Labs has named its newest cohort — and opened applications for the next one. Photo courtesy of Halliburton

Halliburton Labs has doubled the number of clean energy companies that are operating out of its facilities with the addition of its second cohort.

Four companies have been selected for the program, joining four existing member companies of Halliburton Labs, which originally launched last summer. The companies recently announced to the incubator are Alumina Energy, Ionada, Parasanti, and SurgePower Materials.

"We are excited to support and collaborate with this group of early-stage, clean energy companies as they continue their commercialization journey," says Dale Winger, managing director of Halliburton Labs, in a news release. "Each has demonstrated a commitment to accelerating their technologies, and we are eager to help them innovate, develop and scale each company."

The new companies join existing labs members Nanotech Inc, Enexor BioEnergy, Momentum Technologies, and OCO Inc. Nanotech was the first company to join the labs in August 2020, while the other three were added in February.

With the announcement of the new cohort, Halliburton is now accepting applications for its third cohort. Interested companies can apply via the website, and submissions are due by September 3, 2021.

Alumina Energy

Focusing on providing zero-carbon heat and power solutions, Santa Monica, California-based Alumina Energy has created a patented packed bed thermal energy storage technology that can make renewable energy resources a more reliable and cost competitive source of heat and power.

"We are very excited to join Halliburton Labs' cleantech accelerator program and collaborate with their experienced team to advance cleaner, affordable energy," says Sasha Braun Diamont, founder and CEO of Alumina Energy, in the release.

Ionada

Ionada is based in Ontario, Canada, and also has offices in London and Germany. The company has developed an exhaust gas cleaning systems that's designed to reduce emissions from the marine and power generation industries.

"We are receiving tremendous interest from industrial emitters around the world for modular carbon capture systems. Halliburton Labs' engineering, supply chain expertise and global network provide the ideal launching platform for us to scale our business to meet demand," says Edoardo Panziera, CEO of Ionada, in the release.

Parasanti

Headquartered in Austin, Parasanti is a tech company with software and hardware applications geared toward streaming analytics and production machine learning to enhance data analytics,

"Parasanti could not be more honored to be a part of the Halliburton Labs accelerator. With the domain expertise and wealth of knowledge that Haliburton Labs possesses, this accelerator will position Parasanti to leverage our edge hardware and software technologies to enable new artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions in the energy space," says Parasanti co-founders James Hancock and Joshua Seagroves in the release.

SurgePower Materials

San Marcos-based SurgePower Materials has developed a way to produce high-purity graphene from an abundant renewable raw material — a process that will allow for producing concrete, electronics, renewable energy, and batteries in a more sustainable way.

"Our goal is to make SurgePower Materials the key enabler of the forthcoming graphene age with plant-based graphene as an essential component of many new technologies. Our strategic collaboration with Halliburton Labs allows us to leverage their world-class engineering expertise to rapidly scale our production and accelerate the adoption of new graphene-based solutions," says Dr. Michael Opoku, CEO of SurgePower Materials, in the release.

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Building Houston

 
 

From a low-cost vaccine to an app that can help reduce exposure, here are the latest COVID-focused and Houston-based research projects. Photo via Getty Images

While it might seem like the COVID-19 pandemic has settled down for the time being, there's plenty of innovative research ongoing to create solutions for affordable vaccines and tech-enabled protection against the spread of the virus.

Some of that research is happening right here in Houston. Here are two innovative projects in the works at local institutions.

UH researcher designs app to monitor best times to shop

A UH professor is putting safe shopping at your fingertips. Photo via UH.edu

When is the best time to run an errand in the pandemic era we currently reside? There might be an app for that. Albert Cheng, professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston, is working on a real-time COVID-19 infection risk assessment and mitigation system. He presented his plans at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers conference HPC for Urgent Decision Making and will publish the work in IEEE Xplore.

Cheng's work analyzes up-to-date data from multiple open sources to see when is the best time to avoid crowds and accomplish activities outside the home.

"Preliminary work has been performed to determine the usability of a number of COVID-19 data websites and other websites such as grocery stores and restaurants' popular times and traffic," Cheng says in a UH release. "Other data, such as vaccination rates and cultural factors (for example, the percentage of people willing to wear facial coverings or masks in an area), are also used to determine the best grocery store to shop in within a time frame."

To use the app, a user would input their intended destinations and the farthest distance willing to go, as well as the time frame of the trip. The risk assessment and mitigation system, or RT-CIRAM, then "provides as output the target location and the time interval to reach there that would reduce the chance of infections," said Cheng.

There's a lot to it, says Cheng, and the process is highly reliant on technology.

"We are leveraging urgent high-performance cloud computing, coupled with time-critical scheduling and routing techniques, along with our expertise in real-time embedded systems and cyber-physical systems, machine learning, medical devices, real-time knowledge/rule-based decision systems, formal verification, functional reactive systems, virtualization and intrusion detection," says Cheng.

2 Houston hospitals team up with immunotherapy company for new vaccine for Africa

The new vaccine will hopefully help mitigate spread of the disease in Sub-Saharan Africa. Photo via bcm.edu

Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have teamed up with ImmunityBio Inc. — a clinical-stage immunotherapy company — under a licensing agreement to develop a safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccine.

BCM has licensed out a recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine candidate that was developed at the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development to ImmunityBio. According to the release, the company engaged in license negotiations with the BCM Ventures team, about the vaccine that could address the current pandemic needs in South Africa.

"We hope that our COVID-19 vaccine for global health might become an important step towards advancing vaccine development capacity in South Africa, and ultimately for all of Sub-Saharan Africa," says Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor and co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

ImmunityBio, which was founded in 2014 by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, is working on innovative immunotherapies that address serious unmet needs in infectious diseases, according to a news release from BCM.

"There is a great need for second-generation vaccines, which are accessible, durable and offer broad protection against the emerging variants," says Soon-Shiong. "ImmunityBio has executed on a heterologous ("mix-and-match") strategy to develop a universal COVID-19 vaccine. To accomplish this, we have embarked upon large-scale good manufacturing practices and development of DNA (adenovirus), RNA (self-amplifying mRNA) and subunit protein (yeast) vaccine platforms. This comprehensive approach will leverage our expertise in these platforms for both infectious disease and cancer therapies."

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