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Mitsubishi designs MMA pilot plant using bio-based materials

Mitsubishi designs MMA pilot plant using bio-based materials
Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation

Japan’s Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) and its subsidiary Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates (MCM) have developed a manufacturing technology for MMA (methyl methacrylate) monomers that uses plant-derived materials and have begun designing a pilot plant.

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. 

Promising results using the second method have 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.

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.

As the world’s No.1 manufacturer with the top share in the MMA and acrylic resin industry, the Group will pursue the potential of this business, work with stakeholders around the world to reduce the environmental burden of the entire supply chain and seek to actively lead the efforts to realize a circular economy.