A new program at Rice University will educate recent graduates or returning learners on key opportunities within energy transition. Photo via Rice.edu

A Houston university has committed to preparing the workforce for the future of energy with its newest program.

Rice University announced plans to launch the Master of Energy Transition and Sustainability, or METS, in the fall. The 31 credit-hour program, which is a joint initiative between Rice's George R. Brown School of Engineering and the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, "will train graduates to face emergent challenges in the energy sector and drive innovation in sustainability across a wide range of domains from technology to economics and policy," according to the university.

“We believe that METS graduates will emerge as leaders and innovators in the energy industry, equipped with the skills and knowledge to drive sustainable solutions,” Rice President Reginald DesRoches says in the release. “Together we can shape a brighter, more resilient and cleaner future for generations to come.”

Some of the focus points of the program will be geothermal, hydrogen, and critical minerals recovery. Additionally, there will be education around new technologies within traditional oil and gas industry, like carbon capture and sequestration and subsurface storage.

“We are excited to welcome the inaugural cohort of METS students in the fall of 2024,” Thomas Killian, dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and a professor of physics and astronomy, says in the release. “This program offers a unique opportunity for students to delve into cutting-edge research, tackle real-world challenges and make a meaningful impact on the future of energy.”

The new initiative is just the latest stage in Rice's relationship with the energy industry.

“This is an important initiative for Rice that is very much aligned with the university’s long-term commitment to tackle urgent generational challenges, not only in terms of research — we are well positioned to make significant contributions on that front — but also in terms of education,” says Michael Wong, the Tina and Sunit Patel Professor in Molecular Nanotechnology, chair and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a professor of chemistry, materials science and nanotechnology and of civil and environmental engineering. “We want prospective students to know that they can confidently learn the concepts and tools they need to thrive as sustainability and energy transition experts and thought leaders.”

------

This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

For the 2023 budget year, Texas’ total pot of federal money ranked second behind California’s. Photo via Getty Images

Texas attracts big percentage of government clean energy investment, says 2023 report

by the numbers

On a per-person basis, Texas grabbed the third-highest share of federal investment in clean energy and transportation during the government’s 2023 budget year, according to a new report.

Texas’ haul — $6.2 billion in federal investments, such as tax credits and grants — from October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023, worked out to $204 per person, bested only by Wyoming ($369) and New Mexico ($259). That’s according to the latest Clean Investment Monitor report shows. Rhodium Group and MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research produced the report.

For the 2023 budget year, Texas’ total pot of federal money ranked second behind California’s ($7.5 billion), says the report. Nationwide, the federal government’s overall investment in clean energy and transportation reached $34 billion.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Public and private investment in clean energy and transportation soared to $239 billion in 2023, up 37 percent from the previous year.
  • Overall investment in utility-scale solar power and storage systems climbed to $53 billion in 2023, up more than 50 percent from the previous year.
  • Overall investment in emerging climate technologies (clean energy, sustainable aviation fuel, and carbon capture) during 2023 surpassed investment in wind energy for the first time. This pool of money expanded from $900 million in 2022 to $9.1 billion in 2023.

The Lone Star arm of the pro-environment Sierra Club says the federal Inflation Reduction Act, which took effect in 2022, “includes a dizzying number of programs and tax incentives” for renewable energy.

“While it will take several years for all the programs to be implemented, billions in tax incentives and tax breaks, along with specific programs focused on clean energy development, energy efficiency, onsite solar, and transmission upgrades, means that Texas could help lower costs and transform our electric grid,” says the Sierra Club.

------

This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

"Companies and stakeholders across the energy spectrum need to act together and act fast." Photo via Getty Images

Energy tech expert: Recent report shines light on clean tech progress needed by 2030

guest column

Houston is home to some of the nation's largest oil and gas exploration and production firms, making it one of the world’s most important energy capitals. Growing regional support for pioneering clean tech, such as carbon capture, will help achieve the crucial transition to net zero whilst maintaining economic stability, boosting local industries and creating jobs.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), North America and Asia Pacific are expected to hold the largest share in carbon capture capacity. North America’s world-leading carbon capture potential comes as no surprise given the nation’s dominance in oil and gas, and ideal geology for sequestration.

The IEA’s recently published World Energy Outlook 2023 depicts a global market that is in transition. With more companies, world leaders and governments recognizing that a shift towards sustainable energy is both inevitable and transformative, the question is no longer whether we switch to clean energy, but rather how soon the transition can happen.

For every $1 in investment spending on fossil fuels globally, $1.8 is now being spent to develop clean energy, according to the IEA. Although the clean energy market has almost doubled in the past five years to reach an estimated $2.8 trillion in 2023, investment needs to hit $4.2 trillion per year by 2030 to achieve the universally shared goal of net zero. The IEA believes around 1 Gigaton of CO2 must be captured in 2030, rising to 6 Gigatons by 2050 to achieve the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (termed NZE Scenario). This presents a tremendous opportunity for government stakeholders and the business community in Houston to turbocharge the economy and protect the planet from the impact of climate change.

While volatility around the energy market lingers, sustainable technologies remain one of the most dynamic areas of global energy investment. An essential ingredient to its success is bringing on board innovators, entrepreneurs, corporations, and financiers to ensure technology innovation is front and center in facilitating the clean energy transition.

Carbon capture technology is critical, but energy leaders and hard-to-abate industries are under pressure to move faster. To do that, the carbon capture industry must scale up its deployment and increase adoption if hard-to-abate sectors are to address the 30 percent of global CO2 emissions for which they are responsible. Governments have a pivotal role to play in providing financial, regulatory and policy incentives, facilitating a collaborative environment between financiers, hard-to-abate operators, and clean tech companies. While we are moving in the right direction, there is no room for complacency or procrastination given the short timescales for meaningful action.

Over the past several years, Carbon Clean, a global company that is revolutionizing carbon capture, has enjoyed significant expansion in North America. Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022, we saw huge interest in our modular industrial carbon capture technology almost overnight, resulting in a 64 percent increase in inquiries from the U.S. To meet this booming demand, we have opened a U.S. headquarters in Houston, and have plans to double our U.S. headcount to meet industry requirements for our scalable and cost-effective technology, CycloneCC. In short, the United States is poised to become our biggest market. Given our latest lead investor and partner is Houston-based Chevron New Energies, there is no better place than Houston to drive innovation in the country’s energy sector.

The IRA did more than just bring in new inquiries for our breakthrough technology – it also signaled to the energy sector that the federal government is getting serious about bringing emissions down. The impact of the IRA cannot be overstated, especially for the point-source carbon capture technology pioneered by Carbon Clean. While the IRA involves billions of dollars of public investment, it is set up in such a way that companies must make substantial investments first, acting as a down payment on fostering jobs and ensuring the business community is delivering ambitious climate action. The benefits are being felt locally as well – cities like Houston are at the forefront of what the IRA has to offer, taking advantage of these investments and reducing emissions.

Companies and stakeholders across the energy spectrum need to act together and act fast. With the dramatic growth required for carbon capture to have full effect, it will be essential for government, industry, and innovators to join together to concentrate on a number of projects and clusters. We are confident that with new cutting-edge technology and broad collaboration we can rapidly get the world on the right path to net zero.

———

Prateek Bumb is CTO and co-founder of Carbon Clean and the principal innovator of Carbon Clean’s industrial carbon capture technologies.

This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.
Meet the new arrivals at Greentown Houston. Photo courtesy of Greentown Labs

9 startups join Houston climatech accelerator to tackle carbon capture, energy efficiency, and more

new to hou

Greentown Labs closed out the second quarter with the addition of 17 startups, and just over half are collaborating with the Houston location.

The technology represented by the new additions span the industries of energy, agriculture, and manufacturing, with a focus on carbon capture, electrical usage efficiency, and resource accessibility.

Carbon capture

Two of the newest Houston members, Capture6 and C-Quester, are also part of the Carbon2Value Initiative, a global partnership between the Greentown Labs, Urban Future Lab in New York, and Fraunhofer, headquartered in Michigan. C2V focuses on accelerating technology solutions that capture carbon dioxide for conversion into value-adding products and services.

Similar to the way a sponge is moistened and later wrung out, C-Quester pulls CO2 from flue gas into a temperature-sensitive material that can be heated later to release carbon, making the storage and transport of CO2 easier to manage.

Capture6 uses CO2 pulled from the atmosphere through their Direct Air Capture technology in combination with water treatment methodologies to remove excess salinity from saltwater and brine, resulting in greater freshwater recovery, usable elements for a variety of industries, and carbonates transformed into mineralized form to prevent continued carbon emissions.

Energy efficiency

The Helix MICRA filters created by Helix Earth Technologies can remove CO2 from power plants and other pollutants commonly encountered in the shipping industry. The filtering technology, initially developed for NASA, also dehumidifies air conditioning systems for more efficient energy use.

H2PRO uses its water-splitting technology, E-TAC, to produce green hydrogen in a two-step process that requires less energy to perform than the more common process of electrolysis with improved safety aspects.

Steam production and distribution get an upgrade with Imperium Technologies, the first electromechanical solution that enables previously unseen systems monitoring for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, on average.

With a keen focus on predictive insights, eologix deploys smart sensors to give operators advance warning of situations that could cause rotor imbalances to keep wind turbines – and the energy they produce – optimized.

Resource accessibility

NW NA supports the goals of stability, predictability, and accessibility of electric-powered vehicle use with its high-power EV-charging station, mobile electricity storage units, and renewable energy measurement and forecasting tool.

From the Metaversity under development, to its oil and gas line leak detection systems, Kauel goes all-in on AI for its clients, even helping children with kinesthetic rehabilitation through augmented and virtual reality programs.

Finally, SkyH2O brings fresh, clean water to areas with limited access to existing infrastructure or natural water resources for commercial, military, and industrial use.

Another eight startups join the cohort named above as members of the Greentown Labs Boston location: Capro-X, Carbon2Stone, Cottage, Dioxycle, enaDyne, Global Algae Innovations, Terrafixing, and Thola.

------

This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

The Department of Energy has doled out funding to four Houston companies. Photo via Getty Images

4 Houston companies snag DOE funding for carbon advancement

freshly granted

Four Houston companies have captured more than $45 million in federal funding to promote the capture, transportation, use, and storage of tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The U.S. Department of Energy on May 17 announced funding for these four Houston companies:

  • BP Corporation North America Inc. — $33,411,193. The money will be earmarked for two commercial-scale storage sites along the Texas Gulf Coast. The sites will be able to ultimately store up to 15 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
  • Timberlands Sequestration LLC — $23,779,020. The funding will go toward a biomass carbon removal and storage project for the Alabama River Cellulose pulp and paper mill in Monroe County, Alabama. Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific LLC owns the mill.
  • Magnolia Sequestration Hub LLC — $21,570,784. The money will help finance the Magnolia Sequestration Hub in Allen Parish, Louisiana, with an estimated 300 million metric tons of total CO2 storage capacity. Magnolia is a subsidiary of Houston-based Occidental Petroleum Corp.
  • Bluebonnet Sequestration Hub LLC — $16,480,117. The funding will be spent on development of the Bluebonnet Sequestration Hub along the Texas Gulf Coast, with the potential for more than 350 million metric tons of CO2 storage capacity. Bluebonnet is a subsidiary of Occidental.

Another Texas company received $3 million in Department of Energy (DOE) funding. Howard Midstream Energy Partners LLC of San Antonio will perform a study for a system capable of moving up to 250 million metric tons of CO2 per year from numerous sources to storage sites on the Gulf Coast — from the Port of Corpus Christi to the Mississippi River.

In all, the Department of Energy announced $251 million in funding for 12 projects in seven states aimed at bolstering the U.S. carbon management capabilities. The money comes from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was enacted in 2021.

“Thanks to historic clean energy investments, DOE is building out the infrastructure needed to slash harmful carbon pollution from industry and the power sector, revitalize local economies, and unlock enormous public health benefits,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says in a news release.

DOE says carbon dioxide emissions are fueling global warming, which has heightened the threat of droughts, severe fires, rising sea levels, floods, catastrophic storms, and declining biodiversity.

Precedence Research estimates the value of the global market for carbon capture and storage was $4.91 billion in 2022, and it expects the market value to reach $35.7 billion by 2032.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston health care institutions receive $22M to attract top recruits

coming to Hou

Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine has received a total of $12 million in grants from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas to attract two prominent researchers.

The two grants, which are $6 million each, are earmarked for recruitment of Thomas Milner and Radek Skoda. The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced the grants May 14.

Milner, an expert in photomedicine for surgery and diagnostics, is a professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic at the University of California, Irvine and the university’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

In 2013, Milner was named Inventor of the Year by the University of Texas at Austin. At the time, he was a professor of biomedical engineering at UT. One of his major achievements is co-development of the MasSpec Pen, a handheld device that identifies cancerous tissue within 10 seconds during surgical procedures.

Skoda is a professor of molecular medicine in the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel, both in Switzerland. He specializes in developing treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasms, which are a group of blood diseases including leukemia.

Other recruitment grants provided by the institute to Houston-area organizations are:

  • $4 million for recruitment of Susan Bullman to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She was an assistant professor at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, where she studied the connection between microbes and cancer.
  • $4 million for recruitment of Oren Rom to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Rom is an assistant professor of pathology and translational pathobiology at Louisiana State University Shreveport.
  • Nearly $2 million for recruitment of Lauren Hagler to conduct RNA cancer biology at Texas A&M University. She is a postdoctoral scholar in biochemistry at Stanford University.

The institute also awarded grants to five companies in the Houston area:

  • $4.7 million to 7 Hills Pharma for development of immunotherapies to treat cancer and prevent infectious diseases.
  • $4.5 million to Indapta Therapeutics for the Phase 1 trial of a cell therapy for treatment of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • $2.75 million to Bectas Therapeutics for development of antibodies and biomarkers to overcome a type of resistance T-cell checkpoint therapy.
  • $2.69 million to MS Pen Technologies for development of technology that differentiates between normal tissue and cancerous tissue during surgery.
  • $2.58 million to Crossbridge Bio for development of an antibody-drug combination to treat certain solid tumors.

Houston startup secures $10M to expand into rural communities

ready to grow

A Houston company that is working on a value-based model for primary care has fresh funding to support its mission.

Hamilton Health Box announced the completion of a $10 million series A funding round led by 1588 Ventures with participation from Memorial Hermann Health System, Impact Ventures by Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Texas Medical Center Venture Fund, and the Sullivan Brothers.

The company, founded in 2019 by Dr. Toby R. Hamilton, will use the funding to fuel its expansion into rural areas to help assist those living in Health Professional Shortage Areas, or HPSAs.

The company has pioneered a proprietary “small footprint primary care delivery model,” which is considered suitable for rural markets, employer worksites, office buildings, schools, and university campuses. The cost-effective microclinics are “prefabricated facilities” that are designed for primary care services, and employ a hybrid in-person and telemedicine care approach.

Hamilton began his career as a physician before founding Emerus Holdings, which is a micro-hospital system in the Houston area that later moved to private equity.

The recently acquired funding will help expedite the high-touch care model to 98 million Americans in HPSAs, which was a goal for when the company was established during the Covid-19 pandemic. HHB has made partnerships with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to provide primary care services both at existing FQHC centers and through new sites in rural areas.

"Hamilton Health Box that was designed to deliver the lowest possible price of primary and preventative care," Hamilton said in a previous interview with Innovation Map. "We built that to be able to take that care to the jobsite and meet the customer where they are at."