The importance of energy transition collaborations, UH solar research project, and more top stories
Editor's note: It's been a busy news week for energy transition in Houston, and some of this week's headlines resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter. Trending news included a recap from a recent energy transition panel, self-driving freight lanes coming soon, and more.
Houston research team develops breakthrough process for light-harvesting crystals in DOE-backed project
Rice University engineers and collaborators developed a technology that converts light into electricity. Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
A team of Rice researchers have developed a breakthrough synthesis process for developing light-harvesting materials that can be used in solar cells to convert light into electricity.
Detailed in an October study in Nature Synthesis, the new process is able to more closely control the temperature and time of the crystallization process to create 2D halide perovskites with semiconductor layers of “ideal thickness and purity,” according to a release from Rice.
The process, known as kinetically controlled space confinement, was developed by Rice University chemical and biomolecular engineer Aditya Mohite, along with others at Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Rennes. The research was backed by the Department of Energy, the Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation and a number of other organizations. Read more.
The Houston energy transition ecosystem is primed for collaborative partnerships – but here's what to keep in mind. Photo courtesy of Digital Wildcatters
When it comes to advancing the energy transition in Houston and beyond, experts seem to agree that collaborations between all major stakeholders is extremely important.
In fact, it was so important that it was the first panel of the second day of FUZE, an energy-focused conference put on by Digital Wildcatters. EnergyCapital HTX and InnovationMap were the event's media partners, and I, as editor of these news outlets, moderated the panel about collaborations.
I wanted to take a second to reflect on the conversation I had with the panelists earlier this week, as I believe their input and expertise — from corporate and nonprofit to startup and investing — was extremely valuable to the greater energy transition community. Read more.
Texas is one step closer to seeing a Houston-to-Dallas driverless truck route on I-45. Photo courtesy of Aurora
Houston is emerging as a major player in the evolution of self-driving freight trucks.
In October, Aurora Innovation opened a more than 90,000-square-foot terminal at a Fallbrook Drive logistics hub in northwest Houston to support the launch of its first “lane” for driverless trucks — a Houston-to-Dallas route on I-45. Aurora opened its Dallas-area terminal in April.
Close to half of truck freight in Texas moves along I-45 between Houston and Dallas. Read more.
Algenesis bills its patented Soleic technology as the world’s first renewable, high-performance, fully biodegradable, and backyard-compostable polyurethane made from plants and algae. Photo via AlgenesisMaterials.com
Houston-based venture capital firm First Bight Ventures led a $5 million seed round for Encinitas, California-based startup Algenesis, a developer of biodegradable plastics.
Algenesis bills its patented Soleic technology as the world’s first renewable, high-performance, fully biodegradable, and backyard-compostable polyurethane made from plants and algae. Each year, 25 million tons of hard-to-recycle polyurethane are produced for the footwear, medical, and textile industries. Polyurethane, typically made from petroleum, usually ends up as landfill waste or environmental microplastics.
Algenesis says Soleic can biodegrade in compost within a matter of months and does not contain harmful PFAS chemicals found in other plastics. Read more.
Wogbe Ofori, founder and chief strategist of WRX Companies, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss hardtech and Houston as an energy transition city. Photo via LinkedIn
The energy transition has momentum, according to Wogbe Ofori. But there's still a ways to go.
Ofori, the founder and chief strategist of WRX Companies, is an adviser to Nauticus Robotics and strategist to Intuitive Machines and Jacobs, he's also served as a mentor across the local innovation community. He's narrowed in on hardtech and has has gotten a front-row seat to observing what's happening in Houston amid the energy transition, as he explains on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. Read more.