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Houston-based sustainability company partners with Toshiba on carbon capture projects

Lummus Technology and Toshiba Energy Systems and Solutions Corp. announced a collaboration agreement that will have both companies pursuing carbon capture projects. Photo courtesy of Toshiba

Two global companies have announced a collaborative effort toward pursuing carbon capture projects.

Toshiba’s subsidiary Toshiba Energy Systems will provide its advanced amine-based solvents, which are specifically tailored for post-combustion carbon capture, as well as its “system design guidelines” aimed for Toshiba’s solvents. Houston-based Lummus Technology will provide its post-combustion carbon capture technology.

Lummus’ access to Toshiba’s advanced amine-based post-combustion carbon capture solvents and technology will be vital for the project. Toshiba’s amine-based post-combustion carbon has been used in commercial and demonstration plants in Japan, and have allowed capturing of over 600 tons per day of CO2. With this access, Lummus can integrate its technology into project designs, and deliver “operational excellence and a competitive cost structure for customers,” according to the company.

Lummus can offer clients an OPEX-competitive solution by incorporating Toshiba’s advanced solvents that will be characterized by reduced amine emissions, lower specific energy consumption per ton of CO2 absorbed, and higher solvent stability against degradation.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Lummus to introduce our advanced amine-based solvent and CO2 capture solution to a broader audience,” Shinya Fujitsuka, senior vice president of Toshiba Energy Systems and Solutions Corp., says in a news release. “Addressing the urgent need for decarbonization is paramount, and I have every confidence that our partnership with Lummus will enable us to make meaningful contributions towards achieving this goal.”

Both companies have been active in these innovations for years. Lummus has been a leader in post-combustion carbon capture technology since the 1990s by using latest generation solvent technology that provides the full design involving an absorber and solvent regeneration systems, which can be applied to complex combustion flue gas streams. Since 2007, Toshiba has been considered an industry leader in post-combustion amine-based solvent CO2 capture technology.

“I am excited about our partnership with Toshiba, which expands Lummus’ range of low carbon solutions and aligns with our commitment to lowering emissions for the downstream energy industry,” Leon de Bruyn, president and CEO of Lummus Technology, says in the release. “Combining Lummus’ post-combustion carbon capture technology with Toshiba’s highly competitive solvents and technology gives our customers a strong option for CAPEX and OPEX solutions as they advance their carbon capture investments.”

Lummus has recently secured other partnerships with Dongyang Environment Group to roll out Lummus' advanced plastics recycling technology in Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea, and will be operated by Dongyang Environment's subsidiary, Seohae Green Chemical. Lummus also paired with Citroniq Chemicals to build North American plants that produce green polypropylene.

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A View From HETI

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want. Photo courtesy of Boxes

With the help of a new conversational artificial intelligence platform, a Houston startup is ready to let brands get up close and personal with consumers while minimizing waste.

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want.

The Boxes device, about the size of a 40-inch television screen, dispenses products to consumers in a modern and sustainable spin on the old-fashioned large vending machine.

CEO Fernando Machin Gojdycz learned that business from his entrepreneur father, Carlos Daniel Machin, while growing up in Uruguay.

“That’s where my passion comes from — him,” Gojdycz says of his father. In 2016, Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay with some engineer friends

Funded by a $2,000 grant from the University of Uruguay, the company's mission was “to democratize and economize affordable and sustainable shopping,” in part by eliminating wasteful single-use plastic packaging.

“I worked for one year from my bedroom,” he tells InnovationMap.

Fernando Machin Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay before relocating the company to Greentown Houston. Photo courtesy of Boxes

The device, attached to a wall, offers free samples, or purchased products, in areas of high foot traffic, with a touch-screen interface. Powered by watsonx Assistant, the device asks survey questions of the customer, who can answer or not, on their mobile devices, via a QR code.

In return for completing a survey, customers can get a digital coupon, potentially generating future sales. The software and AI tech tracks sales and consumer preferences, giving valuable real-time market insight.

“This is very powerful,” he says.

Boxes partnered in Uruguay with major consumer brands like Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson and Unilever, and during COVID, pivoted and offered PPE products. Then, with plans of an expansion into the United States, Boxes in 2021 landed its first U.S. backer, with $120,000 in funding from startup accelerator Techstars.

This led to a partnership with the Minnesota Twins, where Boxes devices at Target Field dispensed brand merchandise like keychains and bottles of field dirt.

Gojdycz says while a company in the Northeast is developing a product similar in size, Boxes is not “targeting traditional spaces.” Its software and integration with AI allows Boxes to seamlessly change the device screen and interface, remotely, as well.

Boxes aims to provide the devices in smaller spaces, like restrooms, where they have a device at the company's headquarters at climate tech incubator Greentown Labs. Boxes also recently added a device at Hewlett Packard Enterprise headquarters in Spring, as part of HPE’s diversity startup program.

Boxes hopes to launch another sustainable innovation later this year, in universities and supermarkets. The company is also developing a device that would offer refillable detergent and personal cleaning products like shampoo and conditioner with a reusable container.

Since plastic packaging accounts for 40 percent of retail price, consumers would pay far less, making a huge difference, particularly for lower-income families, he says.

“We are working to make things happen, because we have tried to pitch this idea,” he says.

Some supermarket retailers worry they may lose money or market share, and that shoppers may forget to bring the refill bottles with them to the store, for example.

“It’s about..the U.S. customer,” he says, “….but we think that sooner or later, it will come.”

Boxes has gotten funding from the accelerator startup branch of Houston-based software company Softeq, as well as Mission Driven Finance, Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, and Right Side Capital, among others.

“Our primary challenges are scaling effectively with a small, yet compact team and maintaining control over our financial runway,” Gojdycz says.

The company has seven employees, including two on its management team.

Gojdycz says they are actively hiring, particularly in software and hardware engineering, but also in business development.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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