seeing green

Houston organizations announce new partner, plans for clean industrial hub

These organizations are teaming up to advance development of a regional clean industrial hub. Photo by Katya Horner

Two Houston organizations that are on a mission to make Houston a leader in the energy transition have announced new plans for a hub focused on decarbonization.

The Houston Energy Transition Initiative and the Center for Houston’s Future have teamed up with the Mission Possible Partnership, with support from the Bezos Earth Fund, to lead the city of Houston through the accelerated development of a regional clean industrial hub geared at decarbonization of the industrial sector, including petrochemicals, cement plants, heavy transportation, and more.

The two-year project is focused on development and deployment of clean energy projects — such as "low-carbon hydrogen, carbon capture, use and storage, electrification of industrial processes, and the production and use of low carbon fuels," according to a press release.

“There is no geography in the world better positioned to support the transition to and integration of abundant, low-carbon energy solutions than Houston," says Jane Stricker, executive director and senior vice president of HETI, in the release. "As the Energy Transition Capital of the World, Houston is leveraging its energy leadership to accelerate global solutions for a low-carbon future. This partnership with MPP is a critical component in the region’s efforts to develop and deploy technologies, policies and strategies for broad decarbonization."

MPP, a nonprofit alliance of climate leaders launched in 2020 focused on energizing decarbonization, is supported by RMI, the Bezos Earth Fund, the Energy Transition Commission, World Economic Forum, and We Mean Business.

“The Center for Houston’s Future has been leading HETI’s clean hydrogen initiative with the goal of making Houston a global clean hydrogen leader," says Brett Perlman, CEO of the Center for Houston’s Future. "We’re now pleased to work with Mission Possible Project and leverage the MPP team’s deep subject matter expertise in clean hydrogen and experience in creating hydrogen ecosystems."

In October, HETI released a report calling for the region to aim for $150 billion in capital earmarked for the sector by 2040. The report indicated that about $15 billion in energy transition capital is flowing into the region each year and about $25 billion is flowing out of the region. Of the $25 billion, oil and gas players with headquarters or a significant presence in Houston account for more than 80 percent.

“Increased energy transition capital commitment from energy incumbents raises investor confidence in Houston’s potential for energy transition leadership,” reads the report.

The Center for Houston's Future had a report of its own that published earlier this year and makes the argument of how Houston-based assets can be leveraged to lead a global clean hydrogen innovation.

“It should come as no surprise that Houston, the energy capital of the world, is taking the lead in the emerging low emissions energy ecosystem,” says Bryan Fisher, director of hubs at MPP and managing director of RMI’s Climate-Aligned Industries, in the release. “MPP’s work with HETI and the Center for Houston’s Future will focus on a portfolio of solutions, including low carbon fuels, clean hydrogen, and CCUS to drive sustainability and equitable economic growth for the region.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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A View From HETI

The work is "poised to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental physics," according to Rice University. Photo via Rice.edu

A team of Rice University physicists has been awarded a prestigious grant from the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Physics for their work in high-energy nuclear physics and research into a new state of matter.

The five-year $15.5 million grant will go towards Rice physics and astronomy professor Wei Li's discoveries focused on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a large, general-purpose particle physics detector built on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, a European organization for nuclear research in France and Switzerland. The work is "poised to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental physics," according to a statement from Rice.

Li's team will work to develop an ultra-fast silicon timing detector, known as the endcap timing layer (ETL), that will provide upgrades to the CMS detector. The ETl is expected to have a time resolution of 30 picoseconds per particle, which will allow for more precise time-of-flight particle identification.

This will also help boost the performance of the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC), which is scheduled to launch at CERN in 2029, allowing it to operate at about 10 times the luminosity than originally planned. The ETL also has applications for other colliders apart from the LHC, including the DOE’s electron-ion collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York.

“The ETL will enable breakthrough science in the area of heavy ion collisions, allowing us to delve into the properties of a remarkable new state of matter called the quark-gluon plasma,” Li explained in a statement. “This, in turn, offers invaluable insights into the strong nuclear force that binds particles at the core of matter.”

The ETL is also expected to aid in other areas of physics, including the search for the Higgs particle and understanding the makeup of dark matter.

Li is joined on this work by co-principal investigator Frank Geurts and researchers Nicole Lewis and Mike Matveev from Rice. The team is collaborating with others from MIT, Oak Ridge National Lab, the University of Illinois Chicago and University of Kansas.

Last year, fellow Rice physicist Qimiao Si, a theoretical quantum physicist, earned the prestigious Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship grant. The five-year fellowship, with up to $3 million in funding, will go towards his work to establish an unconventional approach to create and control topological states of matter, which plays an important role in materials research and quantum computing.

Meanwhile, the DOE recently tapped three Houston universities to compete in its annual startup competition focused on "high-potential energy technologies,” including one team from Rice.

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