seeing less co2

DOE doles out funding to 4 Houston tackling carbon dioxide removal tech

The four companies are among 24 semifinalists in the agency’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Purchase Pilot Prize program that were chosen to receive a total of $1.2 million for their commercial-scale CO2 removal technology.

Four Houston companies have received $50,000 each from the U.S. Department of Energy to further develop their carbon dioxide removal technology.

The four companies are among 24 semifinalists in the agency’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Purchase Pilot Prize program that were chosen to receive a total of $1.2 million for their commercial-scale CO2 removal technology.

The funding comes in the form of the Department of Energy’s purchase of CO2 removal credits.

“The Carbon Dioxide Removal Purchase Prize is a first-of-a-kind initiative to catalyze the market for high-quality CO2 removal credits, helping jumpstart a critical decarbonization tool,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says in a news release.

The Carbon Dioxide Removal Purchase Pilot Prize project will provide up to $35 million in cash awards. The 24 semifinalists will be whittled down to as many as 10 finalists that’ll receive up to $3 million each.

The four Houston companies that have been named semifinalists are:

  • Climate Robotics. The company’s mobile platform produces and applies biochar — organic waste material or biomass — to store CO2.
  • Mati Carbon. The companyremoves carbon dioxide and stores it in rocks to boost rice productivity in the U.S.
  • 1PointFive. The company, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, is building facility that will eventually capture up to 500,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.
  • Vaulted Deep. The companyundertakes geologic storage of slurried organic waste for permanent removal of CO2.

Granholm says the DOE prize program and the Biden administration are giving the private sector the tools they need to make real contributions to our fight against the climate crisis and deliver real benefits to communities across the nation.”

Three of the companies selected — Vaulted Deep, Mati Carbon, and Climate Robotics — were also recently named finalists in Elon Musk's XPRIZE's four-year global competition is designed to combat climate change with innovative solutions.

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A View From HETI

Houston could have ranked higher on a global report of top cities in the world if it had a bit more business diversification. Photo via Getty Images

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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