hou knew?

Energy transition startups to know, event not to miss, and more to be on your radar this week

This roundup of things to know this week is full of PSAs for the energy startup community. Photo courtesy of The Cannon

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem. A new-to-Houston program is calling for applicants, the most promising energy tech businesses pitched here in Houston, and learn about an event not to miss this week.

Most-promising startups named at energy tech event

Ten companies from around the world were named as most promising. Photo courtesy of Rice

At Rice Alliance's annual Energy Tech Venture Forum, 10 startups were named most-promising by investors and experts — and one additional company jumped out to the audience.

"The selection process was both exhilarating and challenging given the incredible ideas we've seen today," says Jason Sidhu, director of information services business engagement at TC Energy, who announced the top companies. "I want to extend my gratitude to every company that participate din this year's Energy Tech Venture Forum. Your commitment to solving energy problems and pursuing ambitions ideas is truly commendable."

From circular economy solutions to hydrogen infrastructure, all 11 of the startups are ones to watch. Click here to find the full list.

Activate is looking for Houston applicants

Calling all hardtech innovators in Houston. Photo via Getty Images

Got an early-stage hardtech innovation? As of today, Houston innovators can apply for a new-to-Houston program that supports researchers on their entrepreneurial journeys. Activate opened the application period for its 2024 cohort, and the window closes October 17.

Applications are open across Activate's five programs. The two-year, hardtech-focused program was founded in Berkeley, California, in 2015 and expanded to Boston and New York before launching its virtual program, Activate Anywhere. Activate announced its expansion into Houston earlier this year, naming Jeremy Pitts as Houston managing director.

“Activate’s recruitment process is crucial, as it centers around finding scientists directly interested in solving urgent problems,” Pitts says. “Activate fellows are turning their technical breakthroughs into businesses that can help industries like manufacturing, energy, chemicals, computing, and agriculture, to meet their decarbonization and resiliency goals.” Click here to read more.

Chevron Technology Ventures hosting pitch competition

The Cannon and Chevron Technology Ventures are hosting a pitch competition. Photo courtesy of The Cannon

On September 28, Chevron Technology Ventures is hosting a pitch competition to identify novel technologies and innovation systems that stand to transform and improve facility-focused operational efficiencies at the Chevron Technology Ventures Pitch Competition. Six Houston companies will compete to win a tailored field trial opportunity with CTV experts, plus a six-month, complimentary, flexible-workspace membership at The Cannon.

The six companies pitching this week are:

  • Corrolytics
  • GuiseAI
  • OctoRD
  • Flite
  • Magic Asset
  • Pike Robotics

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A View From HETI

The plant, expected to go online later this year, will process brine produced from lithium-containing waste-magnesium salts. Photo via ibatterymetals.com

Houston-based International Battery Metals, whose technology offers an eco-friendly way to extract lithium compounds from brine, is installing what it’s billing as 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.

Under its agreement with US Magnesium, International Battery Metals (IBAT) will receive royalties on lithium sales, as well as payments for equipment operations based on lithium prices and performance.

IBAT says its patented technology is the only system that delivers a 97 percent extraction rate for lithium chloride from brine water, with up to 98 percent of water recycled and with minimal use of chemicals.

“Commercial operations will serve growing lithium demand from automakers for electric vehicle batteries, as well as energy storage batteries to support growing electricity demand and to balance the grid from increased renewable energy integration,” IBAT says in a news release.

Initially, the less than three-acre plant will annually produce 5,000 metric tons of lithium chloride. The modular plant was fabricated in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“Our commercial operations with US Mag will advance a productive lithium extraction operation,” says Garry Flowers, CEO of IBAT. “Given current lithium demand, supply dependence on China, and permitting challenges, our expected commercial operations are coming at an ideal time to produce lithium at scale in the U.S.”

IBAT says the technology has been validated by independent reviewers and has been tested in Texas, California, Michigan, Ohio, and Oklahoma, as well as Argentina, Canada, Chile, and Germany.

IBAT says its modular concept positions the company to be a key supplier for rising U.S. lithium demand, providing an alternative to China and other global suppliers.

John Burba, founder, CTO and director of IBAT, says the modular extraction technology “will be the basis of future lithium extraction from brine resources around the world.”

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