CompuCycle reports that it's the only service provider in the country that can provide a recycling solution for both metals and plastics in-house. Courtesy of CompuCycle

An innovative Houston company focused on sustainable tech recycling has expanded.

CompuCycle describes its unique Plastics Recycling System as the first and only certified, single solution e-waste recycling business. The company's unique process can now break down discarded technology products into single polymers that can then be reused in the manufacturing process.

“Properly managing all components of electronics is a cornerstone of sustainability and environmental responsibility,” Kelly Adels Hess, CEO of CompuCycle, says in a news release. “Making single polymer plastics that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can reuse to produce new electronics or other products, while adhering to international recycling standards, is a gamechanger for domestic companies and those that need their plastics shipped globally.”

As of now, CompuCycle reports that it's the only service in the country that can provide a recycling solution for both metals and plastics in-house. The company has met the Environmental Protection Agency’s two accredited certification standards, e-Stewards and R2 certification requirements, per the release.

“We saw an opportunity to solve an industry challenge by creating the first domestic, sustainable, single-solution e-waste plastics program that reduces the amount of plastic negatively impacting the environment, while also making it advantageous for companies to recycle and reuse. It’s truly a win for everyone involved,” adds Clive Hess, president at CompuCycle.

CompuCycle, which has over a 20-year history, added recycling electronics to its toolkit in 2019. While CompuCycle has focused on responsible electronics disposal since Kelly's father-in-law, John Hess, founded the company in 1996, certain recent events have increased the need to recycle more efficiently.

"China is no longer accepting scrap, which is where a lot of materials would go after it was dismantled," Kelly told InnovationMap in 2019. "That's why we've created this solution to be able to responsibly handle it here in the U.S."

Do you think you know the best of Houston's innovation community? Now's your chance to shine the spotlight on a deserving innovator. Photo via Getty Images

Annual awards program calls for sustainable startups, innovative corporates in Houston

nominations open

Calling all Houston innovators in the energy transition space — an annual awards program wants to recognize you.

For the third year, InnovationMap, EnergyCapital's sister site, is hosting an awards program that will recognize the best of the rest in Houston's innovation ecosystem. The awards program will be on Wednesday, November 8, at Silver Street Studios, with tickets going on sale later this month.

The program features a dozen awards this year — some of which should be interesting to the Houston energy transition community:

  • Hardtech Business, honoring an innovative company developing and commercializing a physical technology
  • Digital Solutions Business, honoring an innovative company developing and programming a digital solution to a problem in an industry
  • Sustainability Business, honoring an innovative company providing a solution within renewables, climatetech, clean energy, alternative materials, circular economy, and beyond
  • Corporate of the Year, honoring a corporation that supports startups and/or the Houston innovation community

The nomination period — which includes submitting nominations on behalf of yourself or others — will close September 19. Nominees will be sent an application, which will be due October 4. A panel of judges will review the applications and finalists will be announced and notified ahead of the event.

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities, please reach out to misti@gowmedia.com.

Click here to submit a nomination or see form below.

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

EnergyCapitalHTX announces new editor to site

breaking news

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.”

The site launched with inaugural sponsor HETI, founded in 2021 by the Greater Houston Partnership. Led by Executive Director Jane Stricker, HETI was founded to drive economic growth in the Houston area within the energy transition toward a lower carbon future.

“We are thrilled at the recent announcement of Natalie as the editor of EnergyCapitalHTX. She has a proven track record of telling the Houston innovation story and look forward to working with her to continue share the exciting happenings in the energy transition ecosystem,” says Stricker, who also serves as GHP's Senior Vice President of Energy Transition.

Prior to launching InnovationMap as editor in 2018, Harms served as associate editor at the Houston Business Journal. A University of Houston journalism graduate, she also has a certificate in publishing from New York University. In 2020, she received the Small Business Media Advocate award from the Small Business Administration for her work on InnovationMap.

Harms also hosts the Houston Innovators Podcast, a weekly conversation with movers and shakers within Houston's innovation community.

Natalie Harms is the editor of InnovationMap and EnergyCapitalHTX. Photo courtesy

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2 sustainability-focused student startups named to Houston accelerator

ready to grow

Rice University's Liu Idea Lab for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, or Lilie, has named eight teams to the second cohort of the Lilie Summer Venture Studio, and two have sustainability as a goal.

According to Rice, the 12-week program received a record number of applications, that spanned the campus' degree offerings.

“We are thrilled to see such a high level of interest and excitement from Rice students for a high-growth venture accelerator,” Kyle Judah, executive director of Lilie, said in a statement. “The diversity and creativity in this year's applications were truly inspiring, and we’re excited to support these promising ventures with the resources and mentorship they need to hit escape velocity and create the next generation of pillar companies for Houston, Texas and the world.”

The selected teams will receive $15,000 in non-dilutive funding from the accelerator, along with access to coworking space and personalized mentorship in the Liu Idea Lab.

Coflux Purification, a patent-pending in-stream module that breaks down PFAS using a novel absorbent for chemical-free water, was named to the cohort, as was Solidec, a technology platform that extracts molecules from water and air, transforms them into pure chemicals and fuels without any carbon emissions.

Here are the rest of the teams for the 2024 Lilie Summer Venture Studio:

  • Docflow, focused on streamlining residency shift scheduling
  • JewelVision, building virtual fitting rooms for jewelry e-commerce retailers using generative AI
  • Levytation, using data science and AI to answer critical questions about sales and customers for coffee shop management
  • OnGuard, a marketplace to book off-duty police officers and security professionals
  • Roster, leverages data on athletes in the NCAA Transfer Portal to automatically send updates on players to coaches
  • Veloci, a running shoe venture that addresses common pains through shoe design

Lilie launched the Summer Venture Studio last year. According to Rice, two out of the six teams selected, Helix Earth Technologies and Tierra Climate, which both also tackle sustainability challenges, raised venture capital funds after completing the accelerator program.

Helix Earth Technologies also went on to earn the inaugural TEX-E Prize at CERAWeek in 2023.

“The track record of our Summer Venture Studio Accelerator speaks for itself, despite being early in our second year," Taylor Anne Adams, head of venture acceleration programs at the Liu Idea Lab, said in a statement. "This is the power of entrepreneurship programming that is designed by founders, for founders, that happens at the Liu Idea Lab.”

Last year, Lilie also named 11 successful business leaders with ties to Houston to its first Lilie’s Leadership Council. Each agreed to donate time and money to the university’s entrepreneurship programs.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

New Houston study shows health impacts of full vehicle electrification in major U.S. cities

what could be

A new study from the University of Houston shows that there's no one-size-fits-all strategy for full vehicle electrification in America's largest U.S. cities.

The study by Ali Mousavinezhad and Yunsoo Choi considered changes in air pollution, specifically PM2.5 and ozone levels, in Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago under different electrification scenarios and how the changes could impact public health.

“Our findings indicate vehicle electrification generally contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and lowering the mortality rate associated with exposure to toxic air pollutants,” Mousavinezhad said in a statement.

However, Mousavinezhad and Choi found that full electrification in Los Angeles could have negative impacts on public health.

Switching fully to electric vehicles could prevent 157 premature deaths each month in Houston, 796 deaths in New York and 328 in Chicago, according to the study. But in Los Angeles, full electrification would increase mortality.

Additionally, full electrification would save between $51 million to $249 million per day for New York, Chicago, and Houston in health-related costs. But Los Angeles would face economic losses of up to $18 million per day.

This was largely due to the unique weather and geography in Los Angeles that can trap air pollutants that harm the lungs. The study found that full electrification would lead to increases in PM2.5 and MDA8 ozone. According to UH, the study reveals the importance and "complexity of air quality management."

“The four largest U.S. cities have distinct anthropogenic sources of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, “Choi added. “Each city requires unique regulations or strategies, including different scenarios for the adoption of electric vehicles, to reduce concentrations of these pollutants and greenhouse gases effectively.”

Mousavinezhad, lead author, is a recent Ph.D. graduate from UH. Choi is a professor of atmospheric chemistry, AI deep learning, air quality modeling and satellite remote sensing. The study, titled “Air quality and health co-benefits of vehicle electrification and emission controls in the most populated United States urban hubs: insights from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston,” was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment earlier this year.

Earlier this year, Texas ranked low in a study that looked at the closest EV charging stations equivalent to a trip to the gas station. However, another study showed that Texas is among the top of the pack for states with the most electric vehicle registrations, but Houston fell behind other large metros in the state for EV friendliness. Click here to read more about both reports.

Things to know: New lithium-focused JV, events not to miss, and more in Houston energy

take note

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: a podcast episode with a biotech leader, a big oil and gas deal, and events not to miss.

Podcast to stream: Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon, CEO of Gold H2, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast

Photo courtesy of Gold H2

Using microbes to sustainably unlock low-cost hydrogen sounds like the work of science fiction, but one Houston company is doing just that.

Gold H2, a spin-off company from Cemvita, has bioengineered subsurface microbes to use in wells to consume carbon and generate clean hydrogen. The technology was piloted two years ago by Cemvita, and now, as its own company with a new CEO, it's safe to say Gold H2's on its way.

"First of all, that was groundbreaking," Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon, CEO of Gold H2, says of the 2022 pilot in the Permian Basin, "to be able to use bugs to produce hydrogen within a couple of days."

"2024 is supposed to be the year where Gold H2 takes off," Sekhon, who joined the company in April, tells the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It was one of those opportunities that I couldn't turn down. I had been following the company. I thought, 'here is this innovative tech that's on the verge of providing a ground-breaking solution to the energy transition — what better time to join the team.'" Read more.

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • The Energy Drone & Robotics Summit is coming to Houston June 10 to 12. Join for the ultimate event in the world for UAVs, Robotics & Data/AI, 3D Reality Capture, Geospatial and Digital Twins focused on the business and technology in energy & industrial operations, inspections, maintenance, surveying & mapping. Register now.
  • Argus Clean Ammonia North America Conference will take place on June 12 to 14 at the Hyatt Regency Houston. Over the three days of the conference, explore the big questions many producers are facing around where demand is coming from, expect to hear perspectives from key domestic consumers as well as international demand centres for clean ammonia. Register now.
  • Join the over 150 senior energy and utilities leaders from June 17 to 18 in Houston for AI in Energy to unlock the potential of AI within your enterprise and delve into key areas for its development.Register now.
  • Energy Underground (June) is a group of professionals in the Greater Houston area that are accelerating the Energy Transition that connect monthly at The Cannon - West Houston. Register now.
  • CCS/Decarbonization Project Development, Finance and Investment, taking place July 23 to 25, is the deepest dive into the economic and regulatory factors driving the success of the CCS/CCUS project development landscape. Register now.

Big deal: Oxy launches JV to demonstrate, deploy promising lithium technology

Houston-based Oxy has opted into a joint venture with BHE Renewables, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. The partnership will demonstrate and deploy direct lithium extraction technology from TerraLithium, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oxy.

TerraLithium's DLE technology extracts and commercially sustainably produces lithium compounds from geothermal brine. Lithium has been a vital part of batteries for electric vehicles, and energy grid storage, which both areas have seen continued demand. The battery lithium demand is expected to increase tenfold over 2020–2030 according to the International Renewable Energy Agency

“Creating a secure, reliable and domestic supply of high-purity lithium products to help meet growing global lithium demand is essential for the energy transition,” President and General Manager of TerraLithium Jeff Alvare says in a news release. “The partnership with BHE Renewables will enable the joint venture to accelerate the development of our Direct Lithium Extraction and associated technologies and advance them toward commercial lithium production.” Read more.