Mitsubishi Rayon and SABIC have signed a letter of intent for a joint venture to build a US$1 bln methyl methacrylate (MMA) complex in Saudi Arabia. The 50-50 venture will use an ethylene-based MMA process developed by Lucite. Capacities will include a 250,000 tpa MMA plant and a 30,000 tpa plant for polymethyl methacrylate. Ethylene and methanol feedstock will be supplied by SABIC. The plant is scheduled for completion in 2013.
MMA has traditionally been manufactured by reacting hydrocyanic acid with isobutylene. Lucite's process, in contrast, uses the cheaper raw materials ethylene, methanol, and carbon monoxide. Last fall, the company started up a 120,000 tpa MMA plant in Singapore that represents the first commercial application of the new technology. Soon after, Mitsubishi Rayon, itself a major MMA producer, announced its deal to buy Lucite.