Will Tope, chief commercial officer of LiNa Energy, joined the Energy Tech Startups podcast to discuss the company's unique technology and growth plans. Photo via LinkedIn

In a world striving for sustainable and efficient energy solutions, United Kingdom-based LiNa Energy emerges as a promising player in the field of advanced battery technologies.

With a focus on overcoming the limitations of traditional lithium-ion batteries, LiNa Energy — a member of the 2023 cohort for Houston-based incubator, Halliburton Labs — presents a unique chemistry that holds the potential to revolutionize energy storage.

In a recent episode of Energy Tech Startups with Will Tope, chief commercial officer of LiNa Energy, we delve into the key aspects of LiNa Energy's technology, exploring the challenges they seek to address and their plans for commercialization.

Energy Tech Startups: What is the main problem that LiNa Energy is trying to solve with their battery technology?

Will Tope: LiNa Energy is driven by a pressing dilemma in today's storage landscape: the limited efficiency and high costs associated with existing storage technologies. They aim to bridge the gap, providing low-cost, long-duration energy storage solutions that can effectively accommodate the increasing penetration of renewable energy sources in power grids worldwide. By addressing this critical need, LiNa Energy aims to unlock the full potential of low-cost, low-carbon electrons for global energy consumption patterns.

ETS: How does LiNa Energy's battery technology differ from traditional lithium-ion batteries?

WT: LiNa Energy's technology distinguishes itself through its unique chemistry and progressive use of ceramics. By combining a stable sodium-based chemistry, developed in the 1970s, with advancements in ceramics from the fuel cell industry, LiNa Energy maximizes safety, heat management, and energy density. Their battery cells feature thin planar ceramic electrolytes, enabling cost-efficient automated manufacturing and reducing the need for extensive thermal management systems. This streamlined approach offers both enhanced performance and cost-effectiveness.

ETS: What are the commercialization plans and target markets for LiNa Energy?

WT: LiNa Energy strategically targets markets with high solar potential, such as India, where the demand for storage solutions arises due to the growing deployment of renewables and the need to shift energy to peak demand periods. LiNa Energy aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of their systems through pilot projects at distribution scale by the end of the year. Leveraging partnerships and strong relationships with key players in the energy industry, LiNa Energy envisions gradual growth in manufacturing capacity worldwide. By offering competitive pricing, they aim to disrupt the market and drive widespread adoption of their innovative battery technology.

As the energy landscape continues to evolve, LiNa Energy's pursuit of affordable, long-duration energy storage technology stands out as a potential game-changer. With their unique chemistry, ceramic advancements, and focus on commercialization in markets with enormous renewable energy potential, LiNa Energy demonstrates a commitment to addressing the world's energy challenges. By challenging the status quo of traditional energy storage systems, LiNa Energy paves the way for a future where efficient and sustainable energy solutions become the norm.

———

This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click here to listen to the full episode.

Digital Wildcatters is a Houston-based media platform and podcast network, which is home to the Energy Tech Startups podcast.

EnergyTech Startups, a podcast co-hosted by two Houston clean energy experts, exists to shine a spotlight on innovative companies and Houston as a hub for energy transition businesses. Photo via Unsplash

Houston podcasters aim to showcase promising local energy tech startups

broadcasting innovation

Houston has a bit of a perception problem, according to Jason Ethier, a long-time energy tech innovator and new podcast host.

"Houston isn't viewed as a cool place to build a company if you don't know how good it is to be here," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

Ethier, who serves as senior director of membership at Greentown Labs, set out to fix that when he launched the EnergyTech Startups podcast last fall with co-host Lara Cottingham, the vice president of strategy, policy, and climate impact at Greentown Labs. To date, the show has introduced listeners to over 20 energy founders and is continuing to do so on a biweekly basis.

"As an entrepreneur, sometimes you feel a gap in the market in your bones and you just have to do something about it," Ethier explains on the origin of the show.

Jason Ethier and Lara Cottingham co-host the EnergyTech Startups podcast. Photos courtesy

With his background in the Northeast, Ethier has seen first hand how Houstonians are just different — they tackle tough challenges and are heads-down focused on these innovations.

"Houston has a lot going for it as a place to build a business, and we're not going to do it the Silicon Valley. We do things the Houston way — we build new technologies, we build big projects," Ethier says. "The funny thing about Houstonians I find is that they are very understated with what they achieve and accomplish like it's no big deal. But it is a big deal."

That's where Ethier and the podcast can help shine a spotlight on the unique innovation these startup founders are in the process of commercializing.

"The premise of EnergyTech Startups is that we're building an energy ecosystem here, and energy and climate are two sides of the same coin," he says. "People working on these energy technologies made the choice to come to Houston — they made the choice not to go to Silicon Valley or Boston."

The goal is twofold — give these startups the platform to tell their story and showcase Houston as the hub for energy innovation.

"How do we tell this Houston story so that whenever folks look at the map and say, 'where do I want to build my business?' they look at Houston and see it as a place they should end up," he says.

Listen to the full episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast with Jason Ethier.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.”

Houston organization celebrates zero waste goal

earth day win

Discovery Green celebrated Earth Day with a major milestone this year — achieving it’s Zero Waste goal.

The nonprofit, along with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and Houston Public Works, are announced that the 2024 Green Mountain Energy Earth Day, which generated more than 3,800 pounds of garbage, diverted the majority of that waste from landfills. "Zero Waste," as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, is successfully diverting at least 90 percent of waste from the landfill.

On Earth Day, Discovery Green composted 2,200 pounds of waste and recycled 1,300 pounds of trash.

“Part of Discovery Green Conservancy’s mission is to serve as a village green for our city and be a source of health and happiness for all. Our goal is to sustain an exceptional environment for nature and people,” Discover Green President Kathryn Lott says in a news release. “We are beyond thrilled to have achieved Zero Waste certification.”

The achievement was made possible by volunteers from the University of Houston – Downtown.

Steve Stelzer, president of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition’s board of directors, acknowledged how rare the achievement is in a public space in a major city like Houston.

“Discovery Green Conservancy stepped up and made a commitment to weigh, measure and record everything. They should be congratulated to have done this at this scale,” Stelzer adds. “The Conservancy said they were going to do it and they did. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

The 2024 event included:

  • 31,000 visitors in attendance
  • 60 + exhibitors
  • 100 + volunteers
  • 12 artists
    • 9 chalk artists
    • Donkeeboy and Donkeemom
    • Mark Bradford
  • 25 Mark Bradford artworks made of scrap presented in partnership with Houston First
  • 4 short films shown
  • 3,836.7 pounds of waste collected during Green Mountain Energy Earth Day