NAI recognized

2 Houston energy researchers secure prestigious designation

The National Academy of Inventors has honored two inventors in Houston within the energy field with their annual professional distinction. Photos via UH.edu

Two professors from the University of Houston have been admitted as fellows to the National Academy of Inventors.

Vincent Donnelly, Moores professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Christine Ehlig-Economides, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished university chair of Petroleum Engineering, received the Fellows honor, which is the highest professional distinction awarded to academic inventors.

UH now has 39 professors who are either Fellows or Senior Members of the NAI. Donnelly and Ehlig-Economides will be inducted as NAI fellows at the NAI 13th annual meeting on June 18 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“The remarkable contributions of the two new NAI Fellows from the University of Houston have left a lasting imprint, earning them high esteem in their respective fields,” Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president for research and technology at UH, says in a statement. “Their work stands as a testament to the extraordinary impact inventors can have, reflecting a standard of excellence that truly sets them apart.”

Donnelly, who is considered a pioneer in plasma science with applications to microelectronics and nanotechnology, was elevated to Fellow for his research on complex plasma systems used in the making of microchips. Ehlig-Economides was elevated to NAI fellow for her vital research leading to innovative solutions in the energy and industrial fields. Ehlig-Economides was also the first woman in the United States to earn a doctorate degree in petroleum engineering.

Two other Houston instructors from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will be inducted to the program in the new year. Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, professor within the department of Imaging Physics and the Division of Diagnostic Imaging, and Anil Sood, professor and vice chair for Translational Research in the Departments of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology and co-director of the Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNA.

Some other notable Texas honorees among the 2024 appointees include:

  • Mark Benden, Texas A&M University
  • Arumugam Manthiram, the University of Texas at Austin
  • Werner Kuhr, Texas Tech University
  • Balakrishna Haridas, Texas A&M University
  • P.Reddy, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

“This year’s class of NAI Fellows showcases the caliber of researchers that are found within the innovation ecosystem. Each of these individuals are making significant contributions to both science and society through their work,” Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, president of the NAI, says in the release. “This new class, in conjunction with our existing Fellows, are creating innovations that are driving crucial advancements across a variety of disciplines and are stimulating the global and national economy in immeasurable ways as they move these technologies from lab to marketplace.

UH also ranks 60th on the National Academy of Inventors’ list of the top 100 universities for utility patents granted last year in the U.S. In 2022, UH received 32 utility patents. The university explains that utility patents are among the world’s most valuable assets because they give inventors exclusive commercial rights for producing and using their technology.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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A View From HETI

Ten energy tech companies in Houston are among 111 organizations to receive up to $250,000 in vouchers from the DOE's Office of Technology Transitions, totaling $9.8 million in funding. Photo via Getty Images

Ten Houston-area companies will receive vouchers from the Department of Energy's latest round of funding to support the adoption of clean energy tech.

The companies are among 111 organizations to receive up to $250,000 in vouchers from the DOE's Office of Technology Transitions, totaling $9.8 million in funding, according to a release from the department.

The voucher program is in collaboration with the Offices of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). It is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“It takes a breadth of tools and expertise to bring an innovative technology from research and development to deployment,” Vanessa Z. Chan, DOE Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of the Office of Technology Transitions, says in a statement. “The Voucher Program will pair 111 clean energy solutions with the support they need from expert voucher providers to help usher new technologies to market.”

In addition to the funding, the program seeks to help small businesses and non-traditional organizations gain access to testing facilities and third-party expertise.

The vouchers come in five different opportunities that focus on different areas of business growth and support:

  • Voucher Opportunity 1 (VO1) - Pre-Demonstration Commercialization Support
  • Voucher Opportunity 2 (VO2) - Performance Validation, Modeling, and Certification Support
  • Voucher Opportunity 3 (VO3) - Clean Energy Demonstration Project Siting/Permitting Support
  • Voucher Opportunity 4 (VO4) - Commercialization Support (for companies with a functional technology prototype)
  • Voucher Opportunity 5 (VO5) - Commercialization Support (for developers, including for-profit firms, that are working to commercialize a prototype that fits a specific technology vertical of interest for DOE)

The 10 Houston-area companies to receive funding, their voucher type and projects include:

  • Terradote Inc. with Big Blue Technologies Inc. (VO2): Full ISO-Compliant Life Cycle Assessment for Clean Energy Technologies
  • Solugen Inc. and Encina with ACTion Battery Technologies L.L.C. and Frontline Waste Holding LLC (Vo2): Barracuda Virtual Reactor Simulation, Validation and Testing
  • Flow Safe with Concept Group LLC and Precision Fluid Control (VO2): Durability Testing of Hydrogen Components, Materials, and Storage Systems
  • Percheron Power LLC (VO4): Fundraising Support
  • Capwell Services Inc. with Banyu Carbon Inc. (VO5): Field Testing Support for Validation of Novel Resource Sustainability Technologies
  • Syzygy Plasmonics with Ample Carbon PBC, Terraform Industries, Lydian Labs Inc. and Vycarb Inc. (VO5): Rapid Life Cycle Assessment for Carbon Management or Resource Sustainability Technologies
  • Solidec Inc. with GreenFire Energy (VO5): LCA Calculator Tool for Carbon Management or Resource Sustainability Technologies
  • Encino Environmental Services LLC with Wood Cache, Completion Corp and Carbon Lockdown (VO5): Realtime Above/Underground Gas Monitoring Reporting and Verification, Including Cloud Connectivity for Remote Sites
  • Mati Carbon PBC with Ebb Carbon Inc. (VO5): Community Benefits Assessment and Environmental Justice

Other Texas-based companies to receive funding included Molecular Rebar Design LLC and Talus Renewables from Austin, Deep Anchor Solutions from College Station, and ACTion Battery Technologies LLC from Wichita Falls.

Last October, the DOE also awarded the Houston area more than $2 million for projects that improve energy efficiency and infrastructure in the region.

In December, its Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations also selected a Houston power company for a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage project cost-sharing agreement.

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