Houston scores federal funding for energy transition projects — and more things to know this week. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem: Federal funding deployed in Houston, a podcast to stream, and more.


Federal funding deals in HOU

DOE has granted funds big and small to Houston energy organizations. Photo via Getty Images

The big news last week was that a Houston-area project been announced as one of the seven regions to receive a part of the $7 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to advance domestic hydrogen production. President Biden and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm named the seven regions to receive funding in a White House statement on Friday, October 13. The Gulf Coast's project, HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub, will receive up to $1.2 billion — the most any hub will receive. Read more.

Also this month, the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy deployed $10 million into three projects working on superconducting tape innovation. Two of these projects are based on research from the University of Houston. Superconductivity — found only in certain materials — is a focus point for the DOE because it allows for the conduction of direct electric current without resistance or energy loss. Read more.

Must-attend events

Upcoming events to put on your radar. Photo via Getty Images

Put these upcoming events on your radar.

  • October 30-31 — Fuze is a must-attend event for executives, investors, and founders serious about solving the energy crisis and boosting company efficiency. Learn more.
  • November 1 — The Greentown Labs Climatetech Summit 2023 will feature energy transition startups, thought leaders, and more both in person and online. Learn more.
  • November 8 — The Houston Innovation Awards will honor the city's startups, entrepreneurs, and ecosystem, including energy tech innovators. Learn more.

Today's listen: Energy Tech Startups

Rawand Rasheed, the CEO and founder of Helix Earth Technologies, joins the Energy Tech Startups podcast. Photo via LinkedIn

Excessive energy consumption in air conditioning systems is a pressing issue with far-reaching implications for carbon emissions and climate change.

Rawand Rasheed, the CEO and founder of Helix Earth Technologies, is at the forefront of addressing this challenge. With a distinguished background as an aerospace engineer with NASA, Rawand’s expertise is now channeled towards the built environment and heavy industries.

In a recent episode of Energy Tech Startups, we dive into how Rawand’s journey from space technology innovations is now revolutionizing energy consumption in air conditioning systems.


Rawand Rasheed, the CEO and founder of Helix Earth Technologies, joins the Energy Tech Startups podcast. Photo via LinkedIn

From NASA to HVAC: How this Houston tech startup is revolutionizing energy-efficient air conditioning

Q&A

Excessive energy consumption in air conditioning systems is a pressing issue with far-reaching implications for carbon emissions and climate change.

Rawand Rasheed, the CEO and founder of Helix Earth Technologies, is at the forefront of addressing this challenge. With a distinguished background as an aerospace engineer with NASA, Rawand’s expertise is now channeled towards the built environment and heavy industries.

In a recent episode of Energy Tech Startups, we dive into how Rawand’s journey from space technology innovations is now revolutionizing energy consumption in air conditioning systems.


In an era where the urgency to combat climate change is palpable, innovators like Rawand Rasheed are making monumental strides in bridging the gap between space-age technology and sustainable solutions for our planet. Drawing from her unique experiences at NASA and her unwavering commitment to the environment, Rawand's work with Helix Earth Technologies exemplifies the transformative potential of cross-disciplinary expertise. As we witness the evolution of her groundbreaking technology in the HVAC sector, it serves as a potent reminder that with determination, innovation, and a clear vision, we can indeed reshape our world for the better. The future of energy-efficient air conditioning, and by extension, a more sustainable world, is on the horizon, and pioneers like Rawand are leading the way.

Energy Tech Startups: How did your experience at NASA inspire your work in decarbonization and HVAC?

Rawand Rasheed: At NASA, we often faced unique challenges that required innovative solutions, especially in space. One such challenge was fighting fires in space using a micrometer-sized droplet spray of water. This led us to develop an efficient filter that could capture these small droplets without any moving parts. This technology, initially designed for space, turned out to have significant implications for climate tech, particularly in capturing and filtering air streams.

ETS: How does your technology help in reducing energy consumption in air conditioning systems?

RR: Our technology can significantly reduce air conditioning energy loads, cutting them by over 50%. It works by absorbing more from air streams, making the cooling process more efficient. Currently, we're focusing on commercial HVAC systems and are close to scaling our system to a commercial unit. Within the next year, we aim to demonstrate the effectiveness of our system at this scale through pilot projects.

ETS: How did your early life shape your entrepreneurial aspirations?

RR: Growing up, I witnessed firsthand the power of determination and hard work. Starting from scratch, both culturally and financially, and achieving success made me believe that anything is possible. This belief, combined with my passion for the environment and engineering, always fueled my desire to start a company. My graduate studies further solidified this aspiration, merging my interests and leading me to establish my own venture in the realm of environmental engineering.


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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click here to listen to the full episode. Hosted by Jason Ethier and Nada Ahmed, the Digital Wildcatters’ podcast, Energy Tech Startups, delves into Houston's pivotal role in the energy transition, spotlighting entrepreneurs and industry leaders shaping a low-carbon future. Digital Wildcatters is a Houston-based media platform and podcast network, which is home to the Energy Tech Startups podcast.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.

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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.”