On July 1, 2022, the commencement ceremony of the first phase of the 300,000 ton methyl methacrylate (hereinafter referred to as methyl methacrylate) MMA project of Henan Zhongkepu Raw and New Materials Co., Ltd. was held in Puyang Economic and Technological Development Zone, marking the application of the first new set of ionic liquid catalytic ethylene MMA technology independently developed by CAS and Zhongyuan Dahua. This is also the first ethylene MMA plant published in China. If the equipment is successfully put into production, it will achieve a breakthrough in China’s ethylene MMA production, which has a very important impact on the MMA industry.
The second MMA unit of ethylene process in China may be publicized in Shandong. It is initially expected to be put into production around 2024, and is currently in the preliminary approval stage. If the unit is true, it will become the second MMA unit of ethylene process in China, which is of great significance to the diversification of MMA production process in China and the development of China’s chemical industry.
According to relevant data, there are the following MMA production processes in China: C4 process, ACH process, improved ACH process, BASF ethylene process and Lucite ethylene process. Globally, these production processes have industrial installations. In China, C4 law and ACH law have been industrialized, while ethylene law has not been fully industrialized.
Why is China’s chemical industry expanding its ethylene MMA plant? Is the production cost of MMA produced by ethylene method competitive?
First, the ethylene MMA plant has created a blank in China and has a high production technology level. According to the survey, there are only two sets of ethylene MMA units in the world, which are located in Europe and North America respectively. The technical conditions of ethylene MMA units are relatively simple. The atomic utilization rate is more than 64%, and the yield is higher than other process types. BASF and Lucite have carried out technical research and development of MMA equipment for ethylene process very early, and achieved industrialization.
The MMA unit of ethylene process does not participate in acidic raw materials, which also leads to low corrosion of equipment, relatively environment-friendly production process, and long overall operation time and cycle. In this case, the depreciation cost of MMA unit in ethylene process during operation is lower than that of other processes.
Ethylene MMA equipment also has disadvantages. First, supporting facilities for ethylene plants are required, in which ethylene is mostly produced by integrated plants, so supporting development of integrated enterprises is required. If ethylene is purchased, the economy is poor. Second, there are only two sets of ethylene MMA equipment in the world. China’s projects under construction use the technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and other enterprises cannot easily and effectively obtain the technology. Third, the MMA equipment of ethylene process has a long process flow, large investment scale, large amount of chlorine containing wastewater will be generated in the production process, and the treatment cost of the three wastes is high.
Second, the cost competitiveness of the MMA unit mainly comes from the supporting ethylene, while the external ethylene has no obvious competitive advantage. According to the investigation, the MMA unit of ethylene method is 0.4294 tons of ethylene, 0.387 tons of methanol, 661.35 Nm ³ Synthetic gas, 1.0578 tons of crude chlorine are produced by co reaction, and there is no methacrylic acid product in the production process.
According to the relevant data released by Shanghai Yunsheng Chemical Technology Co., Ltd., the MMA cost of ethylene method is about 12000 yuan/ton when ethylene is 8100 yuan/ton, methanol is 2140 yuan/ton, synthetic gas is 1.95 yuan/cubic meter, and crude chlorine is 600 yuan/ton. Compared with the same period, the legal costs of C4 method and ACH method are high. Therefore, according to the current market conditions, the ethylene MMA has no obvious economic competitiveness.
However, the production of MMA by ethylene method is likely to match with ethylene resources. Ethylene is basically from naphtha cracking, coal synthesis, etc. In this case, the competitiveness of MMA production by ethylene method will be mainly affected by the cost of ethylene raw materials. If the ethylene raw material is self supplied, it must be calculated based on the cost price of ethylene, which will greatly improve the cost competitiveness of ethylene MMA.
Third, ethylene MMA consumes a lot of chlorine, and the price and supporting relationship of chlorine will also determine the key to the cost competitiveness of ethylene MMA. According to the production processes of BASF and Lucite, both of these processes need to consume a large amount of chlorine. If chlorine has its own supporting relationship, the cost of chlorine does not need to be considered, which will significantly improve the cost competitiveness of ethylene MMA.
At present, ethylene MMA has attracted some attention mainly because of the competitiveness of production costs and the mild operating environment of the unit. In addition, the requirements for supporting raw materials also conform to the current development mode of China’s chemical industry. If the enterprise supports ethylene, chlorine and synthesis gas, then ethylene MMA may be the most cost competitive MMA production mode at present. At present, the development mode of China’s chemical industry is mainly comprehensive supporting facilities. Under this trend, the ethylene method matching with ethylene MMA may become the focus of the industry.

Post time: Nov-23-2022