Pilot Plant Mitsubishi Chemical Develops Technology for Manufacturing Sustainable MMA Monomers

Source: Press release

Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation has developed a technology that makes use of plant-derived materials for producing sustainable MMA (methyl methacrylate) monomers. The company is now is in the process of designing a pilot plant which is expected to be operational by 2023.

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The Group is also developing innovative catalysts and processes to improve productivity in its existing MMA monomer manufacturing technologies, striving to reduce environmental impact by reducing energy consumption and emissions during manufacturing.
The Group is also developing innovative catalysts and processes to improve productivity in its existing MMA monomer manufacturing technologies, striving to reduce environmental impact by reducing energy consumption and emissions during manufacturing.
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Tokyo/Japan – Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and its subsidiary Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates have developed a manufacturing technology for MMA (methyl methacrylate) monomers that uses plant-derived materials and have begun designing a pilot plant.

The two companies (Group) define MMA monomers manufactured by the following three methods as ‘Sustainable MMA’ and are working on the development of its manufacturing technology.

  • 1. Molecular recycling that collects, decomposes and reuses used acrylic resin *
  • 2. New manufacturing technology that applies plant-derived raw materials to the existing MMA monomer manufacturing process
  • 3. New manufacturing technology to directly manufacture MMA monomers from plant-derived raw materials by fermentation

The production of Sustainable MMA uses one of the following three methods to reduce its environmental impact: 1) molecular recycling that collects, decomposes and reuses used acrylic resin, 2) application of plant-derived raw materials to the existing MMA monomer manufacturing processes, and 3) directly manufacture MMA monomers from plant-derived raw materials by fermentation.
The production of Sustainable MMA uses one of the following three methods to reduce its environmental impact: 1) molecular recycling that collects, decomposes and reuses used acrylic resin, 2) application of plant-derived raw materials to the existing MMA monomer manufacturing processes, and 3) directly manufacture MMA monomers from plant-derived raw materials by fermentation.
(Source: Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation)

Promising results using method No. 2 has prompted the Group to begin the design process for a new pilot plant. Applying plant-derived raw materials to the existing process will enable the production of MMA using 100 % bio-derived carbon. The pilot plant will be put into operation in fiscal year 2023 and, after demonstrating the technology’s viability, the goal is to apply it to existing commercial-scale plants in 2026.

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The Group is also developing innovative catalysts and processes to improve productivity in its existing MMA monomer manufacturing technologies, striving to reduce environmental impact by reducing energy consumption and emissions during manufacturing.

MMA is a raw material for acrylic resin used in automobile lamp covers, signboards, aquarium tanks, paints, building materials and many other items. Global demand for MMA has exceeded 3.6 million tons and is expected to continue to grow at the same level as GDP in every country.

* The phrase ‘molecular recycling’ is used because it points to depolymerizing the collection of molecules found in acrylic resin to regain the original functionality of the MMA molecules it contains.

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