Vaulted Deep, which diverts sludgy organic waste from landfills or waterways and captures and stores carbon emissions generated, is getting off the ground with $8 million from investors. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-based Advantek Waste Management Services, which specializes in deep-injection wells that minimize the impact of land, air, and water waste, has launched a carbon removal and storage company.

The spinoff, Vaulted Deep, is getting off the ground with $8 million in seed funding.

Vaulted diverts sludgy organic waste, such as agricultural and livestock waste, before it’s dumped in a landfill or waterway or simply left on land to decompose. It then captures and stores carbon emissions generated by the organic waste.

A study published earlier this year by Louisiana State University ecologist Brian Snyder estimated that organic waste generates five gigatons of carbon dioxide per year. A gigaton equals one billion metric tons.

Vaulted is already off to an impressive start. For one thing, the startup has raised an $8 million seed round led by New York City-based carbon removal fund Lowercarbon Capital. Other investors include Advantek and San Francisco-based climatech VC fund Earthshot Ventures.

In addition, Vaulted has already nailed down purchase commitments from Frontier, a marketplace for buyers and sellers of carbon removal credits. Ryan Orbuch, a partner at Lowercarbon, is one of Frontier’s strategic advisers.

“Vaulted is literally cleaning up the planet, scaling field-proven injection terminology to safely dispose of harmful wastes like biosolids while permanently storing away millions of tons of CO2,” Orbuch says in a Vaulted news release.

While injection sequestration sites often take years to gain permits and start operating, Vaulted already boasts two permitted sites that are up and running. Vaulted offers carbon removal for $300 per ton, compared with more than $500 per ton charged by some competitors.

Advantek founder Omar Abou-Sayed is switching from CEO to chairman of Advantek, which launched in 1999, and will serve as executive chairman of Vaulted. Julia Reichelstein, a former investor at San Francisco-based climatech VC fund Piva Capital, has been tapped as CEO of Vaulted.

“Unlike many carbon removal technologies still in R&D, Vaulted’s technology and sites can safely and permanently store carbon underground, at scale, today,” says Abou-Sayed. “The early removals we will deliver are pivotal to keeping the window open to hold our planet’s warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

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Houston's energy industry deemed both a strength and weakness on global cities report

mixed reviews

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.

New collaboration to build data center microgrid in Houston

coming soon

Two companies are teaming up to build a natural gas microgrid in Houston that will reduce emissions by 98 percent.

Provider of prime and backup power solutions RPower has teamed up with Houston’s ViVaVerse Solutions to build a 17-megawatt (MW) microgrid at the ViVa Center campus in Houston, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.

The microgrid plans to employ ultra-low emissions and natural gas generators to deliver Resiliency-as-a-Service (RaaS), and this will connect to ViVaVerse's colocation data center operations during utility outages.

RPower will also deploy the microgrid across different ERCOT market programs, which will contribute to assist with essential capacity and ancillary services for the local grid. ERCOT has increased its use of renewable energy in recent years, but still has faced criticism for unstable conditions. The microgrids can potentially assist ERCOT, and also help cut back on emissions.

“RPower's pioneering microgrid will not only deliver essential N+1 resiliency to our data center operations but will also contribute to the local community by supplying necessary capacity during peak demand periods when the electric grid is strained,” Eduardo Morales, CEO of ViVaVerse Solutions and Morales Capital Group, says in a news release.

ViVaVerse Solutions will be converting the former Compaq Computer/HPE headquarters Campus into an innovative technology hub called the ViVa Center, which will host the High-Performance Computing Data Center, and spaces dedicated to mission critical infrastructure and technical facilities . The hub will host 200 data labs.

“We are thrilled to partner with ViVaVerse to deploy this `first of its kind' microgrid solution in the data center space,” Jeff Starcher, CEO of RPower, adds. “Our natural gas backup generation system delivers the same reliability and performance as traditional diesel systems, but with a 98 percent reduction in emissions. Further, the RPower system provides critical grid services and will respond to the volatility of renewable generation, further enabling the energy transition to a carbon free future.”