May 28, 2024

Energy Tech Nexus May Newsletter

Energy Tech Nexus May Newsletter
Energy Tech Nexus Updates
  • Now at 50+ founder members!
  • Awarded $50k grant from Small Business Accelerator Fund Competition to establish the Equitable Energy Transition Alliance and Lab to accelerate startup pilots for underserved communities.
  • Awarded contract to help Atlantic Canada companies scale export sales in Houston Market in partnership with techNL and Partners (Province of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador).
  • Gave out $10k value ETN membership awards at the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition and at the Napier Rice Launch Challenge at Rice University.
  • Mark your calendars for Houston Energy and Climate Startup Week September 9-13th, 2024. Connect with us for partnership opportunities.
What happened at this month’s Pitch events?

The TEX-E Prize: Empowering Texas Students in the Energy Transition

The TEX-E Prize, hosted in partnership with the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI) and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, is a startup competition for Texas students developing solutions for the energy transition and addressing climate change. 

In 2024, winners of the TEX-E Prize collectively bagged $50,000 in cash prizes to drive their transformative ventures forward. 

- Solidec a current member of the Energy Tech Nexus, won the first-place winner ( $25000). Solidec pioneers in extracting sought-after molecules from sustainable sources, refining them into pure chemicals and fuels sans fossil emissions.

 - Coflux Purification secured second place ($15000) with their innovative foam module, tackling PFAS breakdown in water purification with energy-efficient methods.

AirMax clinched third place ($10000) with their HVAC retrofit system, promising enhanced efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions for commercial air conditioning.

More about the finalists here.

Texas A&M New Ventures Competition 2024

There were so many exciting startups showcasing their pitches at the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition this May. First place finalists were Taurus Vascular, a Houston-based medical device company but one energy tech startup, Predyct, caught our attention. 

Predyct didn't just win the second-place prize of $20,000; they also took home the Energy Tech Nexus Special Prize. Their innovative approach to predictive operations for climate-critical assets like wind farms truly stands out. Moreover, their proprietary nano-engineered zero-power sensors and AI model provide real-time operational insights for increased production and cost savings.

Kudos to Predyct and all the incredible startups driving the future of energy tech!

More about the finalists here.

XPrize Carbon Remove Technology Contest 2024

Three Houston companies made it to the final stage of XPRIZE Carbon Removal Technology contest, backed by a $100 million donation from billionaire Elon Musk. 

Vaulted Deep, Mati Carbon and Climate Robotics. 

  • Mati, in the Rocks category, durably removes carbon from the atmosphere using basalt based enhanced rock weathering (ERW) in smallholder rice paddy farms. This process, which is being demonstrated in India, removes atmospheric CO2 while adding key nutrients in the soil helping to restore degraded soils to benefit smallholder farmers.
  • Climate Robotics, in the Land category, enables broad-scale agriculture adoption of biochar which builds soil health and removes excess carbon from the atmosphere. The company's mobile technology converts crop residues into durable biochar on the fly and in the field, making the economics work for farmers and our ecosystems.
  • Vaulted Deep, also in the Land category, delivers scalable, permanent, carbon removal by geologically sequestering carbon-filled organic wastes. Their patented slurry sequestration, which involves the geological injection of minimally processed wastes for permanent (10,000+ year) carbon removal.

Read more here.

Investor and Dealflow Related Events

Energy Tech Nexus Founder and Funder’s Fusion on Wednesday 25th of May at 5 pm 

Register here

Mark your calendars for Houston Energy & Climate Week

Houston Energy & Climate Week is September 9-13, 2024. Stay tuned for programming from Energy Tech Nexus for that week.

Exciting New Deals

Houston’s Vaulted Deep receives $58.3 million investment from Frontier

Vaulted’s method of removing CO2 via underground injection of waste biomass. (Vaulted Deep/Frontier)

Vaulted Deep is a biomass carbon removal and storage (BiCRS) carbon removal company dedicated to the geologic sequestration of organic wastes. Last fall, the Frontier coalition, a carbon-removal fund whose members include  industry giants like Stripe, Shopify, and Alphabet, boldly invested in carbon credits to initiate Vaulted Deep's groundbreaking commercial-scale carbon removal operations. In April, Vaulted Deep announced it had removed 2000 metric tons of CO2 during its first four months of operations and delivered on the agreement with Frontier.

Frontier members, agreed to scale up the arrangement and agreed to pay Vaulted Deep $58.3 million to remove 152,480 tons of CO2 between 2024 and 2027. This is equal to 40% of the annual emissions from a single US gas fired power plant. The offtake agreement is the most lucrative that Frontier has signed to date and we are honored that that is going to our very own Houston based startup.

Vaulted was launched in September 2023 but a Houston entrepreneur Omar Abou- Sayed Check out the latest episode of Energy Tech Startups where we interviewed Omar.

Read more here.

Chevron New Energies + ION Clean Energy

Chevron New Energies made a strategic investment in ION Clean Energy to expand its portfolio of carbon capture technologies. This collaboration underscores Chevron's commitment to growing carbon capture on a global scale, leveraging ION's innovative solvent technology. Read More

These partnerships signify Houston's leadership in advancing CCUS solutions for a sustainable future, leveraging investment and collaborative agreements to drive impactful change. 

Equinor makes significant investment in direct lithium extraction (DLE) projects.

Equinor has entered into an agreement with Standard Lithium Ltd to acquire a 45% share in two lithium project companies in Southwest Arkansas and East Texas. Standard Lithium and Equinor will respectively own 55% and 45% of the two project companies, with Standard Lithium retaining operatorship. This is potentially the most concrete DLE investment to date from a major O&G producer. Equinor is betting that sustainably produced lithium will be an attractive business while also being an enabler in the energy transition. Equinor will support the operator with core competencies such as subsurface and project execution capabilities. Read more here.

Major Milestones for Energy Tech Startups

Cemvita Announces Breakthrough in Sustainable Oil Production

Cemvita achieves breakthrough in SAF feedstock production enabling large-scale production of sustainable oil. / SOURCE: Business Wire

Cemvita, a biosolutions leader for the energy industry, has achieved a significant milestone in producing Sustainable Oil from waste carbon sources under the leadership of CEO Moji Karimi. This breakthrough enables large-scale production of low-carbon intensity feedstocks for HEFA sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), offering a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuels. The company's biotechnology extracts oil from optimized microorganisms, demonstrating promising applications in fuel, food, cosmetics, and specialty chemicals. Cemvita's innovation represents a critical step forward in reducing carbon emissions and advancing the energy transition. Congratulations to Cemvita and CEO Moji Karimi on this impactful achievement! Learn More

Cemvita is dedicated to pioneering the future of the natural resource industry through carbon utilization in biomanufacturing sustainable oil for SAF production. Collaborating with global corporations, Cemvita accelerates the energy transition with innovative industrial biotech solutions that make tangible impacts on climate goals. Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Houston, Texas, the energy capital of the world, Cemvita is committed to driving sustainability and innovation in the energy sector.

Syzygy Plasmonics' New CO2-to-Fuel Solution Shows Promising Results

Bottle of Fischer-Tropsch crude produced from carbon dioxide and methane in a joint trial between Syzygy Plasmonics and RTI International with project sponsorship from Equinor Ventures and SCOA.

Syzygy Plasmonics, in partnership with RTI International, has made strides in developing a new CO2-to-Fuel production pathway. This innovative technology, backed by Equinor Ventures and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, was successfully demonstrated at RTI's North Carolina facility. The process converts CO2 and methane into low-carbon fuels, potentially reducing emissions equivalent to removing 45,000 cars from the road each year. This breakthrough aims to decarbonize transportation by providing sustainable alternatives for jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline, leveraging Syzygy's light-driven reactors and renewable energy sources.Read More

Syzygy Plasmonics focuses on decarbonizing the chemical industry by using light to drive chemical reactions. Their technology reduces costs and emissions, aiming for a future where fuels and chemicals are carbon-neutral and widely accessible.For more information

RTI International is a nonprofit research institute committed to improving lives through multidisciplinary scientific research and development, providing objective solutions to global challenges.For more information.

Latest in Texas Energy Transition News

International Battery Metals to install first commercial direct lithium extraction plant in the US.

The Houston based company offers an eco-friendly way to extract lithium compounds from brine, is installing what it’s calling the the world’s first commercial modular direct-lithium extraction plant.

The mobile facility is located at US Magnesium’s operations outside Salt Lake City. The plant, expected to go online later this year, will process brine produced from lithium-containing waste-magnesium salts. The resulting lithium chloride product will provide feedstock for high-purity lithium carbonate generated by US Magnesium. Read more

Opening of H2@Scale Hydrogen Research and Demonstration Facility in Austin 

The hydrogen proto-hub is first-of-its-kind and part of Texas-wide initiative for a cleaner hydrogen economy and will feature contributions from organizations throughout the state. The facility will generate zero-carbon hydrogen by using water electrolysis powered by solar and wind energy, and steam methane reformation of renewable natural gas from a Texas landfill. Read more here

Podcast Last Month

 In this episode, explore insights from Sameer Soleja, CEO and founder of Molecule Software, as he delves into the complexities and technological advancements in energy and commodity trading.Listen Here.

We sat down with Casey Martinez, CEO and founder of Clean Incentive, a startup working to optimize the deployment of renewable energy projects for maximum carbon impact. We had an interesting discussion on the challenges of renewable curtailment and how blockchain can bring transparency to renewable energy certificates. Listen here

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