HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 133

Houston cleantech company prepares to move into new facility, scale to meet global demand

Trevor Best, CEO of Syzygy Plasmonics, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo courtesy of Syzygy

When it comes to hardtech, not a lot of startups get the chance to say they're doing things cheaper than they're expected to, but Trevor Best and his clean tech startup, Syzygy Plasmonics, are in the minority there.

"One of the good things about our technology, because we use light instead of heat, we're able to build our reactors out of very low-cost materials — like aluminum and glass. So, we are continually under budget," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "We actually only recently started spending the $23 million we raised over a year ago."

Syzygy, founded in Houston based off research from Rice University, is a chemical company that's developed a photocatalyst-powered hydrogen fuel cell technology that produces a cheaper source of energy that releases fewer carbon emissions. The company has scaled its reactor up in size and hopes the product hits the market next year. The device allows operators of plans power their facilities with a much smaller carbon footprint — at a competitive price, too.

Despite the benefits of being under budget, Best says it's not keeping him from running a full court press on fundraising and scaling for the future. Syzygy has grown its team to 60 people and is preparing to move into a new 45,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Pearland this summer.

"We're about to go out and fundraise more though," Best says on the show. "What we're seeing is the market's appetite for our kind of technology — deep tech for decarbonization in energy and chemicals — is really high. If we want to meet global demand for our product, we need to get ready to scale."

Best says he's keeping a close eye what the market will be looking for, and the interest seems to be in hydrogen as a clean energy solution, which has positioned Syzygy in a great place.

"The reason hydrogen is having a moment is because it is like a swiss army knife for fighting climate change," Best says. "There are a lot of applications for using hydrogen — to the point where I would say that I don't think planet Earth can truly decarbonize without it. That has resulted in a lot of interest in Syzygy's technology."

Best shares more about what else he's watching closely in clean tech — including carbon accounting and inconsistency in green energy solutions — as well as how the Houston innovation ecosystem has evolved over the years on the podcast episode. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


Trending News

Building Houston

 
 

Nauticus Robotics has expanded to the United Kingdom and to Norway. Image via nauticusrobotics.com

A Webster-based tech company has officially launched operations in two European countries — and it's only the beginning.

Nauticus Robotics Inc. (NASDAQ: KITT), which went public a few months ago, opened operations in Norway and the United Kingdom, "beginning the company’s international expansion strategy for 2023 and beyond," according to a release from Nauticus. The company develops underwater robots, software, and services to the marine industries.

“The ocean touches nearly every aspect of our lives, yet paradoxically seems to receive less attention and innovation when compared to other sectors,” says Nicolaus Radford, founder and CEO of Nauticus, in the release. “As we expand our operations to these strategic locales and beyond, our core mission remains the same: to become the most impactful ocean robotics company and realize a future where autonomous robotic technologies are commonplace and enable the blue economy for the better."

The two new operating bases are in Stavanger, Norway, and Aberdeen, Scotland. The two outposts will serve the North Sea offshore market. According to the release, Nauticus will work with local partners to service the region’s offshore wind and oil and gas markets. The company will also expand Nauticus Fleet, a "robotic navy of surface and subsea robots," which was established in April of 2022.

These two new regional offices are just the first examples of international growth Nauticus has planned, according to the release. Established to serve as logistics operation centers, the company's expansion plan includes new remote operation centers and service teams around the world in growth markets. The company did not announce any specific expansion plans.

"We are eager to ramp up activities in these international markets as our growing team contributes to our mission," Radford adds.

In October, shortly after its IPO, Nauticus announced that it has been awarded a second multimillion-dollar contract from the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit, part of the U.S. Defense Department, for development of a self-piloted amphibious robot system powered by the company’s ToolKITT command-and-control software.

The company was originally founded in 2014 as Houston Mechatronics Inc. before rebranding in 2021.

Trending News