deep sea collaboration

Houston-based underwater robotics company taps energy giant for new partnership

Nauticus Robotics and Wood have entered into a strategic partnership. Image via nauticusrobotics.com

Webster-based Nauticus Robotics, a developer of offshore subsea and surface robots and software, has entered a strategic partnership with Scottish energy consulting and engineering firm Wood, which employs about 11,000 people in Houston.

Nauticus and Wood are teaming up to grab a share of the $2.5 trillion-a-year marketplace in the ocean economy.

“This is a great example of the offshore digitization effort and novel use of emerging offshore robotics. Combining these two innovations make perfect sense,” says Todd Newell, senior vice president of business development at Nauticus.

In the long term, Nauticus hopes to replace large human-operated ships that deploy submersible vehicles with its own fleet of green subsea and surface ocean-going robots. Its robots are Hydronaut, a small surface vessel that can be operated by people, and Aquanaut, a tetherless underwater robot. The technology is aimed at sectors such as offshore renewables, oil and gas, government, and aquaculture.

In December, Nauticus and Greenwich, Connecticut-based CleanTech Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC), signed a deal that would result in Nauticus becoming a public company. The SPAC merger, expected to close before June 30, would value Nauticus at $561 million.

Nauticus generated revenue of about $8.2 million in 2021. Revenue is projected to exceed $90 million in 2023. The company was founded in 2014 as Houston Mechatronics; it rebranded last year.

Wood generated more than $6.4 billion in revenue last year. It employs about 40,000 people around the world.

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Building Houston

 
 

Cemvita reported a successful pilot program on its gold hydrogen project in the Permian Basin. Photo courtesy of Cemvita

Houston-based cleantech startup Cemvita Factory is kicking things into high gear with its Gold Hydrogen product.

After successfully completing a pilot test of Gold Hydrogen in the oil-rich Permian Basin of West Texas, Cemvita has raised an undisclosed amount of funding through its new Gold H2 LLC spin-out. The lead investors are Georgia-based equipment manufacturer Chart Industries and 8090 Industries, an investment consortium with offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

Gold Hydrogen provides carbon-neutral hydrogen obtained from depleted oil and gas wells. This is achieved through bioengineering subsurface microbes in the wells to consume carbon and generate clean hydrogen.

Cemvita says it set up Gold H2 to commercialize the business via licensing, joint ventures, and outright ownership of hydrogen assets.

“We have incredible conviction in next-generation clean hydrogen production methods that leverage the vast and sprawling existing infrastructure and know-how of the oil and gas industry,” Rayyan Islam, co-founder and general partner of 8090 Industries, says in a news release.

Traditional methods of producing hydrogen without greenhouse gas emissions include electrolysis powered by renewable sources like wind, solar or water, according to Cemvita. However, production of green hydrogen through normal avenues eats up a lot of energy and money, the startup says.

By contrast, Cemvita relies on depleted oil and gas wells to cheaply produce carbon-free hydrogen.

“The commercialization and economics of the hydrogen economy will require technologies that produce the hydrogen molecule at a meaningful scale with no carbon emissions. Gold H2 is leading the charge … ,” says Jill Evanko, president and CEO of Chart Industries.

Investors in Cemvita include Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, an investment arm of Houston-based Occidental Petroleum, as well as BHP Group, Mitsubishi, and United Airlines Ventures.

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and United Airlines Ventures are financing Cemvita’s work on sustainable jet fuel. United Airlines operates a hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport Houston.

Founded by brother-and-sister team Moji and Tara Karimi in 2017, Cemvita uses synthetic biology to turn carbon dioxide into chemicals and alternative fuels.

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