Lummus and Citroniq say their first plant, set for completion in 2027, will produce 400,000 metric tons of green polypropylene each year. Photo via lummustechnology.com

Two Houston companies, Lummus Technology and Citroniq Chemicals, have paired up to build North American plants that produce green polypropylene.

Polypropylene is a thermoplastic used to manufacture items such as plastic packaging, plastic parts, medical supplies, textiles, and fibers. Green polypropylene is made from biomass.

Lummus and Citroniq say their first plant, set for completion in 2027, will produce 400,000 metric tons of green polypropylene each year. The plant will be at an undisclosed location in the Midwest.

In April, Lummus and Citroniq signed a letter of intent to develop Citroniq green polypropylene projects in North America using Lummus’ Verdenesuite of polypropylene technology. Their newly announced licensing and engineering agreements apply to the first of four planned facilities.

“This agreement demonstrates the progress we continue to make with Citroniq in establishing the first world-scale sustainable bio-polypropylene production process in North America,” Romain Lemoine, chief business officer for polymers and petrochemicals at Lummus, says in a news release.

“Combining Lummus’ leadership in polypropylene licensing with Citroniq’s carbon-negative production capabilities will help us meet the growing demand for bio-polypropylene and accelerate the decarbonization of the downstream energy industry,” Lemoine adds.

Citroniq says it’s investing more than $5 billion to expand its E2O process. The process produces carbon-negative plastics and hydrogen-and-carbon compounds called olefins from fully sustainable feedstocks. This eliminates the use of convention fossil-fuel hydrocarbons, Citroniq says.

Mel Badheka, principal and co-founder of Citroniq, says his company aims “to meet the market’s growing need for sustainable carbon-negative polypropylene at a competitive price.”

The global market for green polypropylene was valued at $123.5 billion in 2022, according to Grand View Research. Growth in the sector is being driven in part by the construction industry, the firm says.

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Houston's energy industry deemed both a strength and weakness on global cities report

mixed reviews

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

New collaboration to build data center microgrid in Houston

coming soon

Two companies are teaming up to build a natural gas microgrid in Houston that will reduce emissions by 98 percent.

Provider of prime and backup power solutions RPower has teamed up with Houston’s ViVaVerse Solutions to build a 17-megawatt (MW) microgrid at the ViVa Center campus in Houston, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.

The microgrid plans to employ ultra-low emissions and natural gas generators to deliver Resiliency-as-a-Service (RaaS), and this will connect to ViVaVerse's colocation data center operations during utility outages.

RPower will also deploy the microgrid across different ERCOT market programs, which will contribute to assist with essential capacity and ancillary services for the local grid. ERCOT has increased its use of renewable energy in recent years, but still has faced criticism for unstable conditions. The microgrids can potentially assist ERCOT, and also help cut back on emissions.

“RPower's pioneering microgrid will not only deliver essential N+1 resiliency to our data center operations but will also contribute to the local community by supplying necessary capacity during peak demand periods when the electric grid is strained,” Eduardo Morales, CEO of ViVaVerse Solutions and Morales Capital Group, says in a news release.

ViVaVerse Solutions will be converting the former Compaq Computer/HPE headquarters Campus into an innovative technology hub called the ViVa Center, which will host the High-Performance Computing Data Center, and spaces dedicated to mission critical infrastructure and technical facilities . The hub will host 200 data labs.

“We are thrilled to partner with ViVaVerse to deploy this `first of its kind' microgrid solution in the data center space,” Jeff Starcher, CEO of RPower, adds. “Our natural gas backup generation system delivers the same reliability and performance as traditional diesel systems, but with a 98 percent reduction in emissions. Further, the RPower system provides critical grid services and will respond to the volatility of renewable generation, further enabling the energy transition to a carbon free future.”