Innovation at the plants

Government investment in Texas City also encouraged innovation. Southport, Pan American and Republic used processes so new that only a few research scientists possessed the necessary knowledge to oversee them.1 But new training techniques — a core staff of skilled employees was trained at each plant — and the relative simplicity of mass-production methods helped stem the need for long apprenticeships.2

In 1942, the Pan American Texas City refinery was the first to use a fluid catalytic cracking process in its 20-story catalytic cracker. This efficiently produced 100 % high-octane aviation fuel. That gave the plant the ability to produce higher quality fuel in larger amounts at a faster rate. Pan American's method of refining was soon adopted by all other aviation fuel refineries aiding the war effort.3


Pan American No. 1 Catalytic Cracking Unit Dedication on March 9, 1944 (Photo from Moore Memorial Public Library)

Citations

1Price, Mamie. (1945). The History of Texas City. Texas City, TX: City of Texas City, 22.

2Bailey, Ronald H. (1977). The home front: U.S.A. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 85.

3Benham, Priscilla. (1987). Texas City: Port of industrial opportunity. Houston, TX: University of Houston, 251-252.