Q&A

From NASA to HVAC: How this Houston tech startup is revolutionizing energy-efficient air conditioning

Rawand Rasheed, the CEO and founder of Helix Earth Technologies, joins the Energy Tech Startups podcast. Photo via LinkedIn

Excessive energy consumption in air conditioning systems is a pressing issue with far-reaching implications for carbon emissions and climate change.

Rawand Rasheed, the CEO and founder of Helix Earth Technologies, is at the forefront of addressing this challenge. With a distinguished background as an aerospace engineer with NASA, Rawand’s expertise is now channeled towards the built environment and heavy industries.

In a recent episode of Energy Tech Startups, we dive into how Rawand’s journey from space technology innovations is now revolutionizing energy consumption in air conditioning systems.


In an era where the urgency to combat climate change is palpable, innovators like Rawand Rasheed are making monumental strides in bridging the gap between space-age technology and sustainable solutions for our planet. Drawing from her unique experiences at NASA and her unwavering commitment to the environment, Rawand's work with Helix Earth Technologies exemplifies the transformative potential of cross-disciplinary expertise. As we witness the evolution of her groundbreaking technology in the HVAC sector, it serves as a potent reminder that with determination, innovation, and a clear vision, we can indeed reshape our world for the better. The future of energy-efficient air conditioning, and by extension, a more sustainable world, is on the horizon, and pioneers like Rawand are leading the way.

Energy Tech Startups: How did your experience at NASA inspire your work in decarbonization and HVAC?

Rawand Rasheed: At NASA, we often faced unique challenges that required innovative solutions, especially in space. One such challenge was fighting fires in space using a micrometer-sized droplet spray of water. This led us to develop an efficient filter that could capture these small droplets without any moving parts. This technology, initially designed for space, turned out to have significant implications for climate tech, particularly in capturing and filtering air streams.

ETS: How does your technology help in reducing energy consumption in air conditioning systems?

RR: Our technology can significantly reduce air conditioning energy loads, cutting them by over 50%. It works by absorbing more from air streams, making the cooling process more efficient. Currently, we're focusing on commercial HVAC systems and are close to scaling our system to a commercial unit. Within the next year, we aim to demonstrate the effectiveness of our system at this scale through pilot projects.

ETS: How did your early life shape your entrepreneurial aspirations?

RR: Growing up, I witnessed firsthand the power of determination and hard work. Starting from scratch, both culturally and financially, and achieving success made me believe that anything is possible. This belief, combined with my passion for the environment and engineering, always fueled my desire to start a company. My graduate studies further solidified this aspiration, merging my interests and leading me to establish my own venture in the realm of environmental engineering.


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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click here to listen to the full episode. Hosted by Jason Ethier and Nada Ahmed, the Digital Wildcatters’ podcast, Energy Tech Startups, delves into Houston's pivotal role in the energy transition, spotlighting entrepreneurs and industry leaders shaping a low-carbon future. Digital Wildcatters is a Houston-based media platform and podcast network, which is home to the Energy Tech Startups podcast.

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A View From HETI

Texas is expensive when it comes to weather events, a new report finds. Photo via Getty Images

Texas — home to everything from tornadoes to hurricanes — cracks the top 10 of a new report ranking states based on impact from weather-related events.

SmartAsset's new report factored in a myriad of data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to identify which states face the most financial risk due to various weather events. In the report, the states were ranked by the total expected annual financial losses per person. Texas ranked at No. 10.

"With a variety of environmental events affecting the wide stretch of the United States, each state is subject to its own risks," reads the report. "Particularly, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, landslides, lightning and drought, among other events, can cause damage to buildings, agriculture and individuals alike. When considering insurance, residents and business owners in each state should account for historic and projected losses due to environmental events in their financial plans."

In Texas, the total expected annual loss per person is estimated as $283.15. The report broke down each weather event as follows:

  • Coastal flooding: $1.49
  • Drought: $3.48
  • Earthquake: $1.71
  • Heat wave: $8.16
  • Hurricane: $89.22
  • Riverine flooding: $66.05
  • Strong wind: $5.37
  • Tornado: $71.04
  • Wildfire: $8.26
  • Winter weather: $1.96
Louisiana ranked as No. 1 on the list with $555.55 per person. The state with the lowest expected loss per person from weather events was Ohio with only $63.89 estimated per person.


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