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Röhm and partners plan to build large-scale MMA plant based on LiMA technology

By Gerald Ondrey |

Röhm GmbH (Darmstadt Germany), OQ (Oman) and OQ Chemicals have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to evaluate the construction of a new production plant for methyl methacrylate (MMA) on OQ’s site in Bay City, Texas. In this plant, a newly developed production process will be implemented for the first time on a large industrial scale. Röhm, a portfolio company of Advent International, has developed the unique and proprietary LiMA technology to produce MMA, an important precursor for Plexiglas (branded in the Americas as Acrylite) and for multiple applications ranging from coatings and adhesives to medical products and road markings.

“We are very pleased to have found in OQ a very competent and reliable partner,” says Dr. Michael Pack, CEO of Röhm. “This project will strengthen the reliability of our supply chain towards our valued customers in the Americas and globally. Basic engineering for this C2-based technology has been under way for some time already and will allow us to decide on the final investment in the first half of 2021. We are on track and expect to start-up production in 2023.” The acronym LiMA reflects the ambitions of Röhm: LiMA stands for ‘Leading in Methacrylates’.

Methacrylate monomers and their derivatives are important precursors for industries such as the automotive and construction industries. The new plant will have a production volume of 250,000 tons and create about 70 direct jobs.

The new technology is based on the raw materials ethylene and methanol, which are readily available on the US Gulf Coast. This guarantees customers the highest level of supply security. At the same time, the technology enables a high product yield with low energy consumption and reduced wastewater volumes. This technology sets new standards for using resources efficiently and for making notable reductions in its environmental impact. “Sustainability is an integral part of our business strategy”, explains Dr. Hans-Peter Hauck, COO. “No doubt, LiMA is the most efficient MMA production technology developed so far and is part of our sustainability program.“ The process has been running in a pilot plant since 2016 in Darmstadt (Germany) where it consistently delivers very good results.

MMA is produced by Röhm on several sites all over the world. “With our new plant we’ll complete our technology platform in our global production Verbund. We now have all available synthesis routes for MMA at hand and strengthen our global cost position,” explains Hauck.

“The signing is an important step towards the realization of the so-called LiMA project,” explains Ron Ayles, Managing Partner at the financial sponsor Advent International. “With its implementation, Röhm will strengthen their technological competence and further expand their leading market position. We are especially pleased to support this groundbreaking new technology and that we have found as partner our former portfolio company OQ Chemicals, that we have built a good understanding and trust with over the many years.”

For more information about LiMA, see Chem Eng. November 2017, p. 7.

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