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A new C2-based production route to MMA

By Gerald Ondrey |

Chemists and engineers from the Performance Materials Segment of Evonik Industries AG (Essen, Germany; www.evonik.com) have developed a new process for making methyl methacrylate (MMA). With a yield of over 90%, the so-called Leading in Methacrylates (LiMA) process can be considered the most efficient MMA production process, says Steffen Krill, head of Innovation Management in the Methacrylates Business Line. Today, MMA production is dominated by routes that start with acetone (C3) or — mainly in Asia — isobutene (C4), with only 10% of global production based on ethylene (C2). The C2 Alpha route that was first developed by Lucite International UK Ltd. (Wilton, U.K.; www.luciteinternational.com), which is now part of Mitsubishi Chemical Corp., was the winner of the 2009 Kirkpatrick Chemical Engineering Achievement Award (see Chem. Eng., December 2009, pp. 17–21; www.chemengonline.com/40th-kirkpatrick-award-announced-2). Similar to the C2 Alpha process, the LiMA process (diagram) uses ethylene, synthesis gas (syngas) and methanol as feedstocks, explains Krill. In the first step, ethylene and syngas are hydroformylated into propionaldehyde. In the next step, propionaldehyde and formalin undergo a Mannich condensation to form…
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