Chemical News. 11-18 February 2002 Ｂａｃｋ
Technology review: MMA know-how
Acetone cyanohydrin route
Isobutylene/tertiary butyl alcohol oxidation route
Ethylene hydroformylation route
Lucite Alpha process
Propylene carbonylation route
PEP Review 99-14
Methyl Methacrylate By Lucite's Alpha Technology (January 2003)
Lucite (formerly Ineos Acrylics) and Kvaerner have developed a new technology, Alpha, to produce methyl methacrylate (MMA) from ethylene in two reaction steps. The process is claimed to avoid the environmental problems of the conventional acetonecyanohydrin route, which involve handling highly toxic hydrogen cyanide and disposing of large amounts of ammonium bisulfate by-product. In addition, the Alpha technology uses only commodity feedstocks-ethylene is reacted with methanol and carbon monoxide to form methyl propionate, which is then reacted with formaldehyde to yield MMA and water.
We have developed a fully patented new low cost route for the production of MMA - known as Alpha. This is being successfully piloted ahead of the first full-scale plant in the USA. The Alpha process uses ethylene and methyl-propionate in a two-stage process to manufacture MMA and is ideal for world scale production (more than 100 kte/220 mm lbs per annum). An alternative route to this process, known as Beta, produces MMA competitively on a smaller scale (40 - 50 kte/88 - 110 mm lbs a year) - through the conversion of methyl-propadiene in a single-stage process. In addition, the company has developed a new, highly competitive route to hydrocyanic acid. Known as Omega, this process is currently in operation at a full-scale pilot facility in Cassel, UK. Each of the three technologies has been patented.