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Evonik Industries is starting basic planning for a new methyl methacrylate (MMA) production plant using the AVENEER® process at its Mobile site in Alabama, USA.
The capital expenditure involved will be in the three-digit million € range. The large-scale plant, with a production capacity of 120,000t, is expected to come onstream in the middle of 2015 and will create up to 100 jobs in Mobile. The overall project is awaiting the approval of the relevant bodies. Methacrylate monomers and their derivatives are the starting materials for innovative products for resource-efficient solutions, as for example in lightweight construction in the automotive industry.
"With AVENEER® technology and our decision in favor of Mobile we’re systematically expanding our global methacrylates platform and consolidating our leading market position further,” says Dr Dahai Yu, member of the Executive Board of Evonik Industries with responsibility for the Specialty Materials Segment. The AVENEER® process developed by Evonik is distinguished by an improved carbon footprint and is thus particularly eco-friendly. Process CO2 emissions are lower than 1,000 kg CO2 per metric ton of MMA, or a little over half of the current value.
Mobile, USA, was chosen as the site for the first MMA plant to use the new AVENEER® process. "As Evonik’s largest North American site, Mobile offers the advantages of a strong infrastructure and optimal availability of all raw materials and power,” says Gregor Hetzke, head of Evonik’s Performance Polymers Business Unit.
The location of the site on the Gulf of Mexico also allows delivery by sea to customers all over the world.
Evonik has so far been producing MMA at the German sites of Worms and Wesseling as well as in Fortier (USA) and Shanghai (China).
AVENEER® uses the same starting materials (ammonia, methane, acetone, and methanol) as the traditional ACH sulfo process but does not need sulphuric acid. With an overall yield of 95%, AVENEER® uses the available resources significantly more efficiently than the current process.
In a pilot facility in Worms, Evonik has brought the innovative process to technological readiness over the last five years. An important advantage of the new process is the capability to produce methyl methacrylate and methacrylic acid simultaneously in a single plant. "The proportion of the two products can be adjusted within wide limits, allowing us a high degree of flexibility,” says Dr Hans-Peter Hauck, head of Evonik’s Acrylic Monomers Business Line.
As the starting product of Evonik’s methacrylates platform, methyl methacrylate is the base for a number of products and a very important monomer for the Group. With more than 100 years of experience in methacrylate chemistry, Evonik produces and markets under the VISIOMER® brand name more than 50 monomers, in addition to MMA, which are produced from or related to MMA. It thus provides the chemical industry with the most extensive range of such products.