future of health tech

Houston researchers are developing smaller scaled imaging machines

Researchers at the University of Houston are revolutionizing pulsed power systems and traditional MRI machines. Image via Pexels

A team of researchers in Houston are developing the next generation of miniaturized pulsed power systems — a technology that was key to the creation of x-ray machines, then MRI machines, and more.

University of Houston researchers led by Harish Krishnamoorthy, Cullen College assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, are working to develop the next generation of miniaturized pulsed power systems. X-rays, MRIs, and similar technology are deeply intertwined with the nuclear age and the mid-20th century. Additionally, pulsed power systems have been used to create other military weapons, such as radar systems and rail guns.

The research is was published in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics. In the paper, the researchers propose creating a mini-pulsed power system that can shrink the system’s energy storage components, such as capacitors, and deliver an immediate surge of power, a recent UH news release summarizes. According to the paper, energy storage can be reduced to less than one-tenth the size of what conventional pulsed power systems use.

“We’re essentially creating a small high-density energy storage machine that will help with reducing the space these machines use, which will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in material costs and improve their reliability,” Krishnamoorthy says.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded the research team a $1 million grant to build their gallium nitride (GaN)-based miniaturized pulsed power system. The team will be conducting the project alongside scientists from Harvard University and Schlumberger, who are sub-recipients of the grant.

“Initially we’ll make a compact pulsed power supply for extreme environment fluid characterization that can disruptively reduce the cost of downhole well logging tools used in fossil and geothermal energy production. This will be followed by a miniaturized converter suitable for mobile hand-held MRI machines. However, we think that we can extend our technology to make small water-purification systems, pulsed laser systems and pulsed electro-magnetic radiation sources,” says Krishnamoorthy.

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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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