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NRG's updates, cleantech startups, and more trending Houston energy transition news

Six participating startups in DivInc’s clean energy accelerator program pitched at the Ion — and more trending Houston energy transition news. Photo via LinkedIn

Editor's note: It's been a busy news week for energy transition in Houston, and some of this week's headlines resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter. Trending news included NRG Park's announced sustainability updates, six cleantech startups pitching in Houston, and more.

NRG Park announces historic complex-wide sustainability project

The improvements are expected to reduce emissions by 241,000 metric tons a year and save over $54 million by 2043. Photo courtesy of NRG

A Houston organization has announced a major energy efficiency and sustainability project that, in 20 years, will end up paying for itself with the savings alone.

The project is a collaboration between Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation (HCSCC), NRG Park, and Harris County. The 20-year savings of the improvements are estimated to generate more than $54 million.

"We remain committed to maintaining NRG Park's distinct position as a part of the fabric of our community and a landmark for visitors globally," Ryan Walsh, CEO and executive director of HCSCC and NRG Park, says in a news release. "These enhancements allow us to maintain our reputation for excellence and continue to deliver the best fan experiences, while exploring innovative and financially responsible approaches to sustainability." Continue reading.

6 startups complete inaugural diversity-focused clean energy accelerator in Houston

Six participating startups in DivInc’s clean energy accelerator program discussed their progress in the program and made connections with attendees at the demo day at the Ion. Photo via LinkedIn

DivInc, a Texas-based accelerator focused on uplifting people of color and women founders, recently concluded their inaugural clean energy cohort, catapulting several early-stage companies to major milestones.

The 12-week intensive Clean Energy Tech accelerator program sponsored by Chevron and Microsoft instructed seven clean energy startup founders at the Ion, through a variety of workshops, mentor sessions, and deep dives with VC professionals. DivInc also gave each startup a non-dilutive $10,000 grant to use during the course of the program.

Cherise Luter, marketing director at DivInc, said the Austin-based development program decided to expand from its previous accelerators — Women in Tech and Sports Tech — into clean energy because it is a newer industry with ample potential.

“Clean energy is an emerging space where founders like ours, women and POC founders, can really get in on the ground floor in a great way so that they are building as well as benefiting from this new space,” Luter tells EnergyCapital. Continue reading.

Houston energy services company acquires carbon capture, storage biz

In M&A news, Buckeye Partners has acquired a carbon capture and storage company from Oklahoma. Photo via Getty Images

Another Houston energy company has announced an acquisition in the carbon capture space.

Buckeye Partners, a Houston-headquartered energy infrastructure and logistics provider, announced this week that it has acquired Oklahoma City-based Elysian Carbon Management from EnCap Flatrock Midstream. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Elysian, founded in 2018, secured an initial capital commitment of $350 million from EnCap Flatrock Midstream in 2021. The company's technology includes end-to-end carbon capture and storage solutions.

“This acquisition reflects Buckeye’s commitment to continue to provide essential infrastructure and logistics solutions to meet our customers’ evolving needs in the energy transition,” say Buckeye CEO Todd Russo in a news release. “Rapidly developing CCS-related technologies and solutions offer abundant synergies across Buckeye’s project development capabilities and existing pipeline network and are essential to enabling the energy transition’s success." Continue reading.

2 Houston energy companies team up for low-carbon ammonia initiative

KBR and Air Liquide are combining their efforts to advance the energy transition. Photo via airliquide.com

Two companies with large presences in Houston have partnered to provide low-carbon ammonia to customers.

Houston-based KBR (NYSE: KBR), an engineering services company, and Air Liquide, a have announced a large-scale low-carbon ammonia partnership that will offer KBR customers a more sustainable option through Autothermal Reforming (ATR) technology.

As far as the collaborative partnership goes, KBR brings its ammonia synthesis technology to the table while Air Liquide has significant experience with ATR for large scale syngas production applications.

"Our differentiated ammonia synthesis technology has been the preferred choice for decades, with complete solutions for blue and green ammonia and large-scale capacity ...," says Doug Kelly, KBR president of technology, in a news release. "The addition of ATR technology further complements our clean ammonia offerings as we work to advance technology solutions to decarbonize the world." Continue reading.

EnergyCapitalHTX announces new editor to site

The newly launched EnergyCapitalHTX has a new editor. Photo via Getty Images

Houston's role in the energy transition is a developing story, and one new media platform that's dedicated to telling it has a new leader at the helm.

EnergyCapitalHTX, which launched on June 1, is the newest platform from Houston-based Gow Media, a media company and the parent company of InnovationMap, CultureMap, SportsMap, and ESPN Radio 97.5FM and 92.5FM. Natalie Harms, inaugural editor of InnovationMap, has been promoted to oversee EnergyCapitalHTX. The promotion took effect on June 26.

“Natalie will do a great job as editor of EnergyCapitalHTX. Her work covering Houston’s innovation economy has been outstanding and we are delighted to extend her leadership to Houston’s energy transition,” says David Gow, chairman of Gow Media. “She has demonstrated an ability to take complex topics and write about them in a clear, informative manner – an attribute that will support the growth of EnergyCapitalHTX.com.” Continue reading.

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A View From HETI

HEXASpec was founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program. Photo courtesy of Rice

A group of Rice University student-founded companies shared $100,000 of cash prizes at an annual startup competition — and three of those winning companies are focused on sustainable solutions.

Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, hosted by Rice earlier this month, named its winners for 2024. HEXASpec, a company that's created a new material to improve heat management for the semiconductor industry, won the top prize and $50,000 cash.

Founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program, HEXASpec is improving efficiency and sustainability within the semiconductor industry, which usually consumes millions of gallons of water used to cool data centers. According to Rice's news release, HEXASpec's "next-generation chip packaging offer 20 times higher thermal conductivity and improved protection performance, cooling the chips faster and reducing the operational surface temperature."

A few other sustainability-focused startups won prizes, too. CoFlux Purification, a company that has a technology that breaks down PFAS using a novel absorbent for chemical-free water, won second place and $25,000, as well as the Audience Choice Award, which came with an additional $2,000.

Solidec, a company that's working on a platform to produce chemicals from captured carbon, and HEXASpec won Outstanding Achievement in Climate Solutions Prizes, which came with $1,000.

The NRLC, open to Rice students, is Lilie's hallmark event. Last year's winner was fashion tech startup, Goldie.

“We are the home of everything entrepreneurship, innovation and research commercialization for the entire Rice student, faculty and alumni communities,” Kyle Judah, executive director at Lilie, says in a news release. “We’re a place for you to immerse yourself in a problem you care about, to experiment, to try and fail and keep trying and trying and trying again amongst a community of fellow rebels, coloring outside the lines of convention."

This year, the competition started with 100 student venture teams before being whittled down to the final five at the championship. The program is supported by Lilie’s mentor team, Frank Liu and the Liu Family Foundation, Rice Business, Rice’s Office of Innovation, and other donors

“The heart and soul of what we’re doing to really take it to the next level with entrepreneurship here at Rice is this fantastic team,” Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice Business, adds. “And they’re doing an outstanding job every year, reaching further, bringing in more students. My understanding is we had more than 100 teams submit applications. It’s an extraordinarily high number. It tells you a lot about what we have at Rice and what this team has been cooking and making happen here at Rice for a long, long time.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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