LyondellBasell unveiled a world-class glass distillation lab at the LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy, & Technology (CPET) at San Jacinto College on Friday, March 5.
"This training facility truly is unequaled in the state and in the country," said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor. "The way that we work and partner with the industries that are a part of our community like LyondellBasell is important to the success of our students and to the success of the petrochemical industry."
San Jacinto College's partnership with LyondellBasell goes back many years — from the development of CPET and its curriculum to supplying volunteers to serve on steering committees and beyond.
"For years, the challenge has been in developing the workforce of the future," said Michael VanDerSnick, senior vice president of Americas Manufacturing, LyondellBasell. "A partnership between higher education and industry was the solution, and the glass lab truly is the centerpiece of that partnership."
The LyondellBasell glass distillation lab is a scaled model distillation plant that shows the chemical and physical processes that take place within a chemical plant. The plant is designed to be a hands-on training tool for the next generation of operators, teaching process technology and instrumentation.
What differentiates LyondellBasell's glass distillation plant from others is that the model incorporates the mechanics of an entire distillation facility, while other process technology programs have single pieces of distillation equipment as a teaching tool. A key benefit of the glass lab is the transparency. Students will view vaporization, heat transfer, and condensation that is involved in the distillation process.
"There is nothing like this lab anywhere else in the world," said Jim Griffin, CPET associate vice chancellor and senior vice president. "Our students will have the opportunity here to learn hands-on using innovative technology in a one-of-a-kind facility."
The glass distillation plant began as a vision to improve student readiness and incumbent worker knowledge and was exclusively designed and built by the LyondellBasell construction team.
"Work on the glass distillation plant began in May of 2019 with a team of eight full-time employees moving on campus in mid-2020," VanDerSnick said. "That is approximately 14,000+ man-hours to date."
Since the lab's unveiling, instructors will be trained by the construction team, and students will be able to access the lab as early as summer 2021.
View event photos.