Mitsubishi may make FID on new US MMA plant in Q2
HOUSTON (ICIS)–Mitsubishi Chemical America could make a final investment decision (FID) on a new methyl methacrylate (MMA) plant in the US in the second quarter, with start-up possible in 2028, the company said on Thursday.
The plant, called the MCA Geismar Site, is proposed to be built in Ascension Parish in Louisiana state, and it will produce 350,000 tonnes/year using the company’s Alpha process technology.
The site will also include a carbon monoxide (CO) plant, a methanol plant and a formalin plant.
This will be the third plant that features the Alpha process, which uses ethylene, methanol and CO to make MMA.
If Mitsubishi Chemical decides to move forward on the project, then construction could start in the second half of 2024, the company said in a statement. It should end in 2028, with operations starting later that year.
The project already has achieved some regulatory milestones.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) had scheduled a public hearing for the project for 1 February.
In 2023, the regulator made a preliminary determination to approve construction of the project.
Mitsubishi Chemical expects the department to approve its air permit application in March or April 2024, it said in a statement.
ETHYLENE-BASED MMA MAY UPEND
MMA is typically made from acetone, which is a co-product of phenol production.
Mitsubishi as well as Roehm are building MMA plants that use ethylene and methanol instead of acetone as a feedstock.
Roehm calls its process technology LiMA, and it will be used in a 250,000 tonne/year plant it is building on the Gulf Coast.
If these new technologies proliferate, then they would create a new end-use for ethylene, and they could slow down the growth for a traditional outlet for acetone.
Not only could that have ramifications for acetone, but the new MMA technologies could affect phenol markets. Phenol and acetone are co-products and are ultimately derived from benzene and propylene via cumene.
Thumbnail shows an item made of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), which is made from MMA. Image by Shutterstock.
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