Röhm and OQ Chemicals Plan US MMA Project

25.02.2021 - Germany’s Röhm and compatriot company OQ Chemicals have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build a 250,000 t/y methyl methacrylate (MMA) plant in the US.

The facility will be based on Röhm’s proprietary LiMA technology and built at OQ’s manufacturing site in Bay City, Texas. Commissioning is scheduled for 2023. OQ will integrate the plant into its existing site and provide raw materials, utilities and site services to Röhm.

Michael Pack, Röhm’s CEO, said the project will strengthen the reliability of its supply chain in the Americas and globally. “Basic engineering for this C2-based technology has been under way for some time already and will allow us to decide on the final investment in the first half of 2021,” he said.

OQ Chemicals’ managing director Oliver Borgmeier added that the new partnership offers “significant growth potential for our oxo business.”

The plant will be the first industrial-scale use of Röhm’s LiMA technology, based on ethylene and methanol feedstocks, which are readily available on the US Gulf Coast. Röhm said the process has been running since 2016 in a pilot plant in Darmstadt. Germany, where it has delivered consistently good results.

MMA is a major feedstock for PMMA, which Röhm sells as Plexiglas (or Acrylite in the Americas). Other applications include protective screens for liquid crystal displays, adhesives, floor coatings and dental products.

The inventor of PMMA, Röhm has a long and storied history. Once part of a number of chemical conglomerates, it last belonged to Evonik’s methacrylates business before being sold in March 2019 to private equity group Advent International, which restored its founding name.

With the new MMA plant, Röhm will strengthen its technological competence and further expand its leading market position, said Ron Ayles, managing partner at Advent International. OQ Chemicals, formerly Oxea, is a former Advent portfolio company.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist