A Belgian hydrogen company has expanded to the United States by way of the Houston area. Photo via johncockerill.com

A Belgian electrolyzer manufacturer has acquired a facility in Baytown, expanding to North America for the first time.

John Cockerill Hydrogen announced today that its acquired a manufacturing space south of Houston that will be retrofitted to become one of the largest alkaline manufacturing facilities in the country. It's slated to deliver as early as the third quarter of next year.

“We are excited for the US launch, the first step in our partnership journey with North American businesses and stakeholders who seek to decarbonize and advance the energy transition,” François Michel, CEO of John Cockerill Group, says in a news release.

Expected to create 200 new jobs and produce one gigawatt of electrolyzers a year, the project is slated to deliver as early as the third quarter of next year.

According to the release, Chambers County's highway and barge access, storage and pipeline proximity, and other existing infrastructure were key factors for the company's decision. John Cockerill Hydrogen, which has an office in Houston already, reports that Houston's recent selection by the Department of Energy to be one of seven hubs to receive funding for hydrogen development was another part of the city's appeal.

“With an existing energy ecosystem comprised of competitive natural resources, a highly skilled talent base, and existing infrastructure, Houston was the natural choice for our entry to North America,” Nicolas de Coignac, president of the Americas for John Cockerill, says in the release. “We look forward to partnering with local and state officials, business organizations, academic institutions and other Houston-area stakeholders playing a part in meeting the ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gases emissions and ensuring energy security and resilience.”

The company has a relationship supporting the Greater Houston Partnership’s Houston Energy Transition Initiative, per the news release, and plans to host a groundbreaking event sometime this year with local business, industrial, and community leaders.

“We are pleased to welcome John Cockerill Hydrogen’s highly anticipated U.S. launch to Houston,” Bob Harvey, president and CEO of GP, says in the release. “This momentous announcement — closely following the U.S. Energy Department’s selection of HyVelocity to develop a Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub – serves as a resounding testament to our city’s unrivaled status as the energy — and energy transition — capital of the world. With our exceptional infrastructure and top-tier talent, Houston is primed for exponential growth. John Cockerill Hydrogen’s partnership within our hydrogen ecosystem will be nothing short of transformative. Together, we will shape the future of energy and solidify Houston’s position in theclean hydrogen space.”

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston company plans to install the first commercial direct lithium extraction plant in the US

coming soon

Houston-based International Battery Metals, whose technology offers an eco-friendly way to extract lithium compounds from brine, is installing what it’s billing as the world’s first commercial modular direct-lithium extraction plant.

The mobile facility is located at US Magnesium’s operations outside Salt Lake City. The plant, expected to go online later this year, will process brine produced from lithium-containing waste-magnesium salts. The resulting lithium chloride product will provide feedstock for high-purity lithium carbonate generated by US Magnesium.

Under its agreement with US Magnesium, International Battery Metals (IBAT) will receive royalties on lithium sales, as well as payments for equipment operations based on lithium prices and performance.

IBAT says its patented technology is the only system that delivers a 97 percent extraction rate for lithium chloride from brine water, with up to 98 percent of water recycled and with minimal use of chemicals.

“Commercial operations will serve growing lithium demand from automakers for electric vehicle batteries, as well as energy storage batteries to support growing electricity demand and to balance the grid from increased renewable energy integration,” IBAT says in a news release.

Initially, the less than three-acre plant will annually produce 5,000 metric tons of lithium chloride. The modular plant was fabricated in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“Our commercial operations with US Mag will advance a productive lithium extraction operation,” says Garry Flowers, CEO of IBAT. “Given current lithium demand, supply dependence on China, and permitting challenges, our expected commercial operations are coming at an ideal time to produce lithium at scale in the U.S.”

IBAT says the technology has been validated by independent reviewers and has been tested in Texas, California, Michigan, Ohio, and Oklahoma, as well as Argentina, Canada, Chile, and Germany.

IBAT says its modular concept positions the company to be a key supplier for rising U.S. lithium demand, providing an alternative to China and other global suppliers.

John Burba, founder, CTO and director of IBAT, says the modular extraction technology “will be the basis of future lithium extraction from brine resources around the world.”

Houston hospital system to launch all-electric fleet of delivery drones

looking up

A Houston hospital system has announced that it has plans to launch a drone delivery service that will replace traditional car deliveries in 2026.

Memorial Hermann Health System announced that it intends to be the first health care provider in Houston to roll out drone delivery services from San Francisco-based Zipline, a venture capital-backed tech company founded in 2014 that's completed 1 million drone deliveries.

"As a system, we are continuously seeking ways to improve the patient experience and bring greater health and value to the communities we serve. Zipline provides an innovative solution to helping our patients access the medications they need, quickly and conveniently, at no added cost to them," Alec King, executive vice president and CFO for Memorial Hermann, says in a news release.

Zipline boasts of achieving delivery times seven times faster than traditional car deliveries and can usually drop off packages at a rate of a mile a minute. The drones, called Zips, can navigate any weather conditions and complete their missions with zero emissions.

Per the release, the service will be used to deliver medical supplies and prescriptions to patients or supplies or samples between its locations.

"Completing more than one million commercial deliveries has shown us that when you improve health care logistics, you improve every level of the patient experience. It means people get better, faster, more convenient care, even from the comfort of their own home," adds Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, co-founder and CEO of Zipline. "Innovators like Memorial Hermann are leading the way to bring better care to the U.S., and it's going to happen much faster than you might expect."

———

This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Know before you go: Offshore Technology Conference 2024

things to know

An annual conference that showcases technology for the offshore energy business is taking over Houston's NRG Park for the majority of the week.

Here's what you need to know before you go out to the event, which will take place Monday, May 6, to Thursday, May 9.

Attend the Distinguished Achievement Awards on Sunday, May 5

OTC's annual awards reception, the Distinguished Achievement Awards, will kick off the week on May 5. The three award honorees for OTC 2024 have been named and will be honored at the event. Click here to learn more about this year's honorees.

Visit the Energy Transition Pavilion 

The Energy Transition Pavilion will feature panels and presentations about the future of sustainability in the energy industry. The programming takes place Monday through Wednesday, and the exhibit is located at NRG Center in Hall C.

Zoom in on offshore wind

This year, OTC is featuring a dedicated thread to offshore wind technology. A mix of panels, keynotes, and technical presentations, the programming will take place over Monday through Wednesday.

Don't miss the exhibition hall

Over a thousand companies will be exhibiting at OTC this year, and the hall can be a bit overwhelming. Check the program or the map online to see who's exhibiting and where to find them.

Catch the three university showcases 

OTC's University R&D Showcase will feature three schools — the University of Houston, Texas A&M International University, and the University of São Paulo. You can find each university's booth open all four days of OTC.