Four decarbonization projects in the region have received federal support. Photo via Getty Images

Four projects along the Gulf Coast will receive a share of up to $6 billion in federal funding for decarbonization initiatives.

The $6 billion in funding was announced March 25 by the U.S. Department of Energy. The federal agency and the award recipients still must hammer out details.

“Spurring on the next generation of decarbonization technologies in key industries like steel, paper, concrete, and glass will keep America the most competitive nation on Earth,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says in a news release.

Below are details about the four projects.

Baytown Olefins Plant Carbon Reduction Project

The Baytown Olefins Plant Carbon Reduction Project, led by Spring-based ExxonMobil, will receive up to $331.9 million in federal funding.

Officials say the project will enable the use of hydrogen in place of natural gas for heat-fired equipment using new burner technologies for ethylene production in Baytown. Ethylene is a chemical feedstock used in the production of textiles, synthetic rubbers, and plastic resins.

The equipment modification is aimed at generating 95 percent clean hydrogen fuel and eliminating 2.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year.

The Baytown project is expected to employ about 400 construction workers. Furthermore, an estimated 140 current Baytown workers will be trained in the use of hydrogen.

Sustainable Ethylene from CO2 Utilization with Renewable Energy (SECURE)

The federal government will supply as much as $200 million for the SECURE project, which will be located along the Gulf Coast. T.EN Stone & Webster Process Technology in Houston is leading the project in partnership with Illinois-based LanzaTech.

The project seeks to capture carbon dioxide from ethylene production — an important building block for many products — by applying a biotech-based process and green hydrogen to create clean ethanol and ethylene.

SECURE is expected to generate 200 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs.

Star e-Methanol

The Star e-Methanol project, which will be located along the Texas Gulf Coast, will collect up to $100 million in federal funding. A subsidiary of Denmark-based clean energy developer Ørsted, which recently opened an office in Houston, is leading the project.

The project seeks to capture carbon dioxide from an industrial facility to produce e-methanol, helping reduce the carbon footprint for hard-to-electrify sectors like shipping. Ørsted’s facility will produce up to 300,000 metric tons of e-methanol per year.

Star e-Methanol is projected to create 300 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs.

Ørsted is collaborating with the University of Houston to develop a curriculum covering zero-carbon fuels and the hydrogen economy.

Syngas Production from Recycled Chemical Byproduct Streams project

The Syngas Production from Recycled Chemical Byproduct Streams project, led by chemical giant BASF, will secure up to $75 million in federal funding.

The project aims to recycle liquid byproducts into synthesis gas. That gas will be used as low-carbon feedstock for BASF’s manufacturing plant in Freeport.

BASF plans to use plasma gasification and renewable power to replace natural gas-fired incineration, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions at the Freeport site by as much as 90 percent.

About 1,600 employees and contractors work at BASF’s Freeport facility.

Joe Powell has been named to a committee for the United States Department of Energy. Photo courtesy of UH

DOE names Houston energy transition leader to advisory committee

here to help

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm appointed a Houston leader to a prestigious committee.

Joe Powell, founding executive director of the Energy Transition Institute at the University of Houston, has been named to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technology Innovation Advisory Committee (ITIAC), which consists of 18 members of “diverse stakeholders” according to a news release from the university.

“The collaborative work of the ITIAC aligns seamlessly with the mission of the Energy Transition Institute at the University of Houston," Powell says in a news release. “Together, we will endeavor to drive impactful change in the realm of industrial decarbonization and pave the way for a sustainable future.”

Powell brings 36 years of industry experience to the committee, as he is a distinguished member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and former chief scientist at Shell. He was recruited by the University of Houston in 2022 through a matching grant from the Texas Governor’s University Research Initiative (GURI).

The Energy Transition Institute at UH focuses on hydrogen, carbon management, and circular plastics and collaborates closely with the University's Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute and researchers from various disciplines, and other partners in academia and various industries.

Also named to the committee is Chevron Technology Venture's general manager of strategy and technology, Akshay Sahni.

The committee’s mandate includes identifying potential investment opportunities and technical assistance programs. They also assist in helping to bring decarbonization technologies into the marketplace. Committee members will evaluate DOE’s department-wide decarbonization efforts, which includes initiatives that advance the two Energy Earthshots related to industrial decarbonization in the Clean Fuels & Products Shot and the Industrial Heat Shot.

Occidental subsidiary 1PointFive received federal funding to go toward building the South Texas Direct Air Capture Hub. Photo via

Houston-based Oxy subsidiary receives $600M in federal funding for carbon capture project

fed funds

A subsidiary of Houston-based energy company Occidental has snagged a roughly $600 million federal grant to establish a hub south of Corpus Christi that’ll remove carbon emissions from the air.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations grant, awarded to Occidental subsidiary 1PointFive, will go toward building the South Texas Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hub. It’ll be located on about 106,000 leased acres within a Kleberg County site at the iconic King Ranch. The hub will comprise 30 individual DAC projects.

In a news release, Occidental says the facility will be able to pull at least 1 million metric tons of carbon from the air each year. The hub eventually might remove and store up to 30 million metric tons of CO2 per year, the company says.

The hub initially will create about 2,500 jobs in construction, operations, and maintenance, says Occidental.

Direct air capture removes CO2 from the atmosphere at any location, according to the International Energy Agency. That’s opposed to carbon capture, which generally happens where CO2 is emitted. Either way, the carbon is stored in deep geological formations and used for a variety of purposes, such as making concrete.

In the case of the South Texas hub, carbon dioxide that’s captured and stored will come from industrial sites along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Occidental President and CEO Vicki Hollub says the grant from the U.S. Department of Energy “validates our readiness, technical maturity, and the ability to use Oxy’s expertise in large projects and carbon management to move the technology forward so it can reach its full potential.”

Oxy’s partners in the South Texas project include:

  • Canada-based clean energy company Carbon Engineering
  • Australia-based professional services provider Worley
  • DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California
  • Livermore Lab Foundation
  • Texas A&M University-Kingsville
  • Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program in Corpus Christi
  • University of Texas at Austin Gulf Coast Carbon Center

The South Texas DAC Hub was one of two DAC projects awarded as much as $1.2 billion in funding August 11 by the Department of Energy (DOE). The other project is Project Cypress, located in Louisiana’s Calcasieu Parish; it received up to $603 million in funding.

In announcing the DAC funding, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says her agency “is laying the foundation for a direct air capture industry crucial to tackling climate change — transforming local economies and delivering healthier communities along the way.”

The DOE says the Texas and Louisiana projects represent the world’s largest-ever investment in engineered carbon removal. They’re two of the four regional projects that the DOE plans to finance as part of its DAC initiative, supported by $3.5 billion in federal funding aimed at capturing and storing pollution from carbon dioxide.

Just 18 DAC facilities are currently operating across the U.S., Canada, and Europe, according to a 2022 report from the International Energy Agency.

“No matter how fast we decarbonize the nation’s economy, we must tackle the legacy pollution already in our atmosphere to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” Granholm said in 2022.

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Chevron, TotalEnergies back energy storage startup's $15.8M series A

money moves

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

Houston innovation leaders secure SBA funding to start equitability-focused energy lab

trying for DEI

A group of Houston's innovation and energy leaders teamed up to establish an initiative supporting equitability in the energy transition.

Impact Hub Houston, a nonprofit incubator and ecosystem builder, partnered with Energy Tech Nexus to establish the Equitable Energy Transition Alliance and Lab to accelerate startup pilots for underserved communities. The initiative announced that it's won the 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, or GAFC, Stage One award.

"We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the SBA alongside our esteemed partners at Energy Tech Nexus," Grace Rodriguez, co-founder and executive director of Impact Hub Houston, says in a news release. "This award validates our shared commitment to building a robust innovation ecosystem in Houston, especially for solutions that advance the Sustainable Development Goals at the critical intersections of industry, innovation, sustainability, and reducing inequality."

The GAFC award, which honors and supports small business research and development, provides $50,000 prize to its winners. The Houston collaboration aligns with the program's theme area of Sustainability and Biotechnology.

“This award offers us a great opportunity to amplify the innovations of Houston’s clean energy and decarbonization pioneers,” adds Juliana Garaizar, founding partner of the Energy Tech Nexus. “By combining Impact Hub Houston’s entrepreneurial resources with Energy Tech Nexus’ deep industry expertise, we can create a truly transformative force for positive change.”

Per the release, Impact Hub Houston and Energy Tech Nexus will use the funding to recruit new partners, strengthen existing alliances, and host impactful events and programs to help sustainable startups access pilots, contracts, and capital to grow.

"SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One winners join the SBA’s incredible network of entrepreneurial support organizations contributing to America’s innovative startup ecosystem, ensuring the next generation of science and technology-based innovations scale into thriving businesses," says U.S. SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman.


This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Texas-based Tesla gets China's initial approval of self-driving software

global greenlight

Shares of Tesla stock rallied Monday after the electric vehicle maker's CEO, Elon Musk, paid a surprise visit to Beijing over the weekend and reportedly won tentative approval for its driving software.

Musk met with a senior government official in the Chinese capital Sunday, just as the nation’s carmakers are showing off their latest electric vehicle models at the Beijing auto show.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the automaker's plan to launch its “Full Self-Driving,” or FSD, software feature in the country.

Although it's called FSD, the software still requires human supervision. On Friday the U.S. government’s auto safety agency said it is investigating whether last year’s recall of Tesla’s Autopilot driving system did enough to make sure drivers pay attention to the road. Tesla has reported 20 more crashes involving Autopilot since the recall, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In afternoon trading, shares in Tesla Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, surged to end Monday up more than 15% — its biggest one-day jump since February 2020. For the year to date, shares are still down 22%.

Tesla has been contending with its stock slide and slowing production. Last week, the company said its first-quarter net income plunged by more than half, but it touted a newer, cheaper car and a fully autonomous robotaxi as catalysts for future growth.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the news about the Chinese approval a “home run” for Tesla and maintained his “Outperform” rating on the stock.

“We note Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai since 2021 as required by regulators in Beijing,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “If Musk is able to obtain approval from Beijing to transfer data collected in China abroad this would be pivotal around the acceleration of training its algorithms for its autonomous technology globally.”