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Previous process designs and current world demand for methyl methacrylate (MMA) have necessitated the investigation of the feasibility of designing a new MMA production process. The most commonly used industrial process for MMA production is the acetone cyanohydrin (ACH) process, which has the disadvantage of using large quantities of hydrogen cyanice (HCN). HCN is both an environmental and a health hazard if not handled properly. The Shell Oil Company has developed a process where the use of HCN can be avoided. In this process, methyl acetylene (MA) is converted to MMA by reaction with high-pressure carbon monoxide gas and methanol over a palladium catalyst. We have therefore considered the construction of a plant capable of producing 100 MM lbs./yr. of MMA at a United States Gulf Coast location via the carboxymethylation of methyl acetylene.
The worldwide demand for the use of MMA in plastics, resins, extrusions compounds, chemical intermediates, etc. is well documented. To satisfy this demand, we have successfully designed a plant to produce 111 MM lbs./yr. of 99.9% pure MMA at full capacity. The subsequent economic analysis of this design showed a return on investment after the third year of production of 56.3% and an investor's rate of return of 39.5%. Based on these returns, and on the environmental and safety advantages of this production method over others currently in use, we highly recommend the construction of this plant beginning in April 2000.
Date Posted: 13 April 2015