Ultrafast battery charging and a method to stop oil spills from spreading are among the technological advances touted by new companies honored this year at the largest energy tech venture capital conference in the U.S.

Credit: 123RF.com/Rice University

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship announced the 10 most promising companies at the 17th annual Energy and Clean Technology Venture Forum held Sept. 10-11 at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. The companies showcased their new offerings at the conference attended by more than 750 investors, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, business executives, mentors and service providers.

The event culminated in the announcement of the 10 companies chosen from more than 180 applicants and judged by Rice Alliance energy and clean technology industry experts and participating investors. Fifty-seven companies presented business pitches at the forum, with an additional 31 participating in the company showcase and investor speed networking session. Over seventy investor groups, including nearly all the major energy operators and service companies, met with 88 companies the day after the forum.

This year’s participating companies were the most diverse in the history of the event, coming from eight countries and 19 states. Internationally, companies came from Germany, Norway, Italy, Brazil, Canada, Israel and Liechtenstein.

Five of the 10 most promising companies hail from across the nation and abroad: GBatteries from Ottawa, Ontario; HARBO Technologies from Tel Aviv; Lilac Solutions from Oakland, California; Mission Secure from Charlottesville, Virginia; and MolyWorks Materials from Los Gatos, California. The other five most promising companies are based in the Houston area: Nesh, Rheidiant, Sensorfield, Sensytec and Syzygy Plasmonics.

“Every year the quality of companies improves,” said Rice Alliance Managing Director Brad Burke, who, along with Brittany Sakowitz, a partner at law firm Vinson and Elkins, presided over the announcement of the award winners. “Over the past 17 years, more than 2,450 companies have presented at Rice Alliance Technology Venture Forums. These companies have raised more than $8 billion in funding. This speaks to the quality of the companies and to the robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Houston region that has developed to support these companies. It demonstrates that good companies have been able to attract investors.”

The 10 most promising companies:

GBatteries, Ottawa, Ontario:
GBatteries is an advanced battery technology company that can charge lithium-ion batteries ultrafast without compromising battery life or changing chemistry.

HARBO Technologies, Tel Aviv:
HARBO Technologies develops revolutionary oil spill response technology that immediately stops spills from spreading, significantly reducing their consequences.

Lilac Solutions, Oakland, California:
Lilac Solutions is a lithium-extraction technology company that has developed a patented process to lower the cost of lithium production.

Mission Secure, Charlottesville, Virginia:
MSi is an industrial control system cybersecurity company protecting key assets for defense and industry.

MolyWorks Materials, Los Gatos, California:
MolyWorks is building a distributed recycling and additive manufacturing network that converts metallic scrap into metal powders for additive manufacturing at the point-of-need.

Nesh, Houston:
This smart assistant for oil and gas companies helps them make better and faster decisions by organizing the complex industrial knowledge within the company and making it effortlessly accessible.

Rheidiant, Houston:
Rheidiant is a venture-backed startup helping innovative energy and power companies implement low-power, wide-area-based industrial Internet of Things solutions. Within a matter of weeks, without migrating data or replacing existing assets, it offers large enterprises with established IT and operational technology architectures modular tools to implement analytics-based solutions such as preventative maintenance, production optimization and leak detection.

Sensorfield, Houston:
Sensorfield provides a complete and uniquely simple plug-and-play platform for monitoring remote industrial equipment based on advanced, tiny solar-powered sensors with edge computing.

Sensytec, Houston:
Smart cement technology helps engineers monitor cement/concrete conditions accurately and continuously by providing real-time data to monitor the health and integrity of cement/concrete structures and to predict and prevent cement/concrete failures.

Syzygy Plasmonics, Houston:
Syzygy Plasmonics is developing a next-generation photocatalytic reactor to produce ultra-low-cost hydrogen gas on-site at customer locations.

The Forum was supported by:
Chevron, Shell, Exxon Mobil, Mercury Fund, Wells Fargo, Insperity, Accenture, BP, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, Total, Shearman and Sterling, Norton Rose Fulbright, TechnipFMC, Hess, Occidental Petroleum, Eunike Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, Altira, Ara Partners, Cimarex, Clovis Point Capital, ConocoPhillips, DCP Technology Ventures, Energy Innovation Capital, Equinor, EV Private Equity, Evok Innovations, Intervale Capital, Lime Rock Partners, PIVA, SCF Ventures, Canadian Consulate, Hunton Andrews Kurth, Leyendecker Executive Search, PKF Texas, Vinson and Elkins, Waste Management, Energy Valley, ATI, Cleantech Open, EPIcenter, Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Exponential, Houston Angel Network, Southwest Research Institute and Rice Business.