LyondellBasell has opened its 70,000-square-foot Houston Technology Center to develop process technologies and chemical catalysts for its Intermediates and Derivatives business.
R&D activities at the facility will focus on improving catalyst and process technologies to reduce manufacturing costs, improve yields and lower capital costs of new construction for LyondellBasell’s global chemicals business. Proprietary technologies supported at the site include propylene oxide, butanediol and derivatives, glycols and glycol ethers, acetyls, olefins and solvents. Manufacturing plants supported by the center include three Houston-area facilities in Channelview, Bayport and La Porte, Texas, as well as Botlek and Maasvlakte, Netherlands; Fos-sur-Mer, France; and a joint venture in Ningbo, China.
Almost half of the building — 33,000 square feet (more than half the size of a football field) — is working research labs and bays. It includes 16 research laboratories, an analytical laboratory, 15 laboratory pilot plant units, 10 pilot plant units and 82 laboratory hoods.
Pilot plants are run from a central control room. The plants are used to conduct further testing on catalysts in small scale manufacturing processes. The plants also enable staff to evaluate new technologies to improve the yield efficiency of manufacturing units. Pilot plants utilize an online product analysis to identify opportunities to improve energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emission in manufacturing units.
The center will employ approximately 80 people, 22 of whom relocated from the company’s former facility near Philadelphia, with the balance hired locally. The new facility is adjacent to the company’s largest U.S. manufacturing complex in Channelview, east of Houston.
“The Houston Technology Center will support research to improve our current processes and catalysts and provide the capability to develop further technology enhancements in support of LyondellBasell’s intermediate and derivatives business,” said Massimo Covezzi, senior vice president of Research and Development.
“Having a research center for our intermediates business on the U.S. Gulf Coast in proximity to our manufacturing, commercial and engineering operations creates a critical mass that did not previously exist. We have leading technologies in propylene oxide and acetyls and this action reaffirms our commitment to maintain our industry leadership in these areas,” said Patrick Quarles, senior vice president of Intermediates and Derivatives.
LyondellBasell has more than 5,000 patents and patent applications worldwide covering manufacturing processes, products and catalysts. Current employees at Houston Technology Center have developed 130 of those patents. Houston Technology Center is one of four R&D centers worldwide at LyondellBasell. Others are located in Cincinnati, Ohio; Ferrara, Italy; and Frankfurt, Germany.
For more information, visit www.lyondellbasell.com or call (713) 309-7200.