2011 – Lucite International34


What’s new

25 years without a Lost Work Case injury




Lucite International’s (LI) Fite Road plant in Memphis, Tennessee, USA celebrated 25 years without a Lost Work Case (LWC) injury. This means that more than 10,000,000 hours have been completed without a LWC; particularly noteworthy for a chemical manufacturing site.


General Manager for LI in the Americas, James Gu said: “The Fite Road record achievement is a truly commendable accomplishment. We must maintain our excellent safety record by our vigilance in maintaining a safe working environment at all times.”

Tom Eubank, North America Health, Safety and Environmental Manager added: “Driving toward SHE Excellence is a process that requires personal effort from all who work on the plant. Personal commitment and a teamwork attitude go far in any endeavour, but especially with SHE values. While 25 years without a LWC injury is a tremendous site achievement, it is actually a tribute to all the people who have worked day-in, day-out forging the trail to SHE Excellence at LI’s Fite Road plant and we thank each and everyone for their part in this success story.’

Cast sheet expansion at Darwen, UK site




LI announces that it will increase capacity at its facility in Darwen, Lancashire, UK with work commencing in 2012.


This exciting expansion plan was sanctioned by parent company Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd (MRC) following confirmation that LI’s Regional Grant Fund application has been recommended for approval by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The project will commence in 2012 and enable us to have new capacity available in line with long-term market demand growth. The investment shows LI’s commitment to the continued growth of the acrylics industry and is great news for the local community where it will generate a substantial number of new jobs.

Development of production technology for sustainable MMA


Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd. (MRC) and subsidiary group Lucite International (both part of the Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation – MCHC) are continuing the drive for innovation by developing alternative sustainable feedstock sources for the production of Methyl Methacrylate (MMA), using both existing technologies and developing completely new bio based routes for methacrylate monomers. We plan to commercialize production and use of sustainable feedstock for MMA production by 2016 and intend to achieve at least 50% of MMA production from these sources.


  1. Objectives

MMA is a material used in the production of a wide range of useful products including recyclable transparent plastics, coatings and adhesives. As a leading chemical producer MRC recognizes its responsibility to develop production methods with low impact on the global environment and to contribute to creation of a more sustainable society by continuously and rapidly reducing our dependence on fossil fuel based raw materials.

  1. Current initiatives

We are investing in two approaches to improve the sustainability of MMA production:

(1) Use of renewable feedstock sources as raw materials to our existing processes; and (2) Development of novel routes to achieve sustainable production directly from renewable sources.

Simultaneously, we continue to innovate in catalysis and process technology to reduce resources consumed per unit of output in all our activities.

Taking as its motto the Japanese word KAITEKI (meaning “well being”), Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation is committed to using chemistry to promote sustainability, health and comfort. Through our development of environment friendly bio-based MMA, we are actively progressing the KAITEKI concept in our global business.

*KAITEKI means not only comfort relative to people, but also the soundness of society and the Earth.

R&D Award




Lucite International’s (LI) has won a prestigious R&D 100 award for its part in the development of a Trapped Annular Pressure Shrinkage Spacer (TAPSS), which uses MMA cleverly as part of a system that increases the safety and efficiency of oil extraction from both on land and offshore wells. The R&D 100 award was won in conjunction with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Chevron Energy and Baker Hughes.


How does TAPSS work?
During the drilling of an oil well, fluids can become trapped between the casing annuli (an annulus is the space between two concentric objects, such as between casing and tubing, which form the structure for the oil to travel through). When these fluids are heated by the flow of warm oil and gas from the well, they expand and create very high pressures that can cause the casing to burst. In land wells, the pressure can easily be relieved by bleeding off some of the fluid through a casing head valve. Offshore wells are not so easy to access and are not generally fitted with the necessary valves. The challenge of finding a reasonably priced, reliable mitigation technique for trapped annular pressure (TAP) was presented to a group of scientists at Los Alamos who quickly narrowed the focus down to liquid monomer (MMA) that shrinks 20% upon polymerisation (triggered by heat and a chemical initiator). Extensive laboratory and field trials showed that polymerisation could be delayed while the TAPSS fluid is pumped.

How do the properties of MMA help?
When MMA is emulsified into a water-based drilling fluid and placed into the appropriate annulus of an oil well, the microscopic monomer droplets polymerise into solid microscopic particles. This process reduces the volume of the MMA droplets by 20%. When a drilling engineer determines the pressure requirements of a particular annulus, it is possible to calculate the amount of MMA needed for the appropriate amount of shrinkage to compensate for any potential pressure problem. MMA-based TAPSS solution will make drilling safer, more efficient and is set to revolutionise the oil industry. The full story is featured at: Los Alamos National Laboratory »

About the R&D 100 Awards
Established by R&D Magazine in the USA in 1963, the annual R&D 100 Awards identify the 100 most significant, newly introduced research and development advances in multiple disciplines. Winning one of the R&D 100 Awards provides a mark of excellence to industry, government, and academia and is proof that the product is one of the most innovative ideas of the year.

Alpha II gets the green light




New MMA plant will be the largest ever built


Lucite International (LI) parent company, Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd (MRC) and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) have announced the formation of a joint venture company to build and operate two plants – one for Methyl Methacrylate (MMA), and the other for Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) – at one of SABIC’s manufacturing affiliates in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.


The next phase of this project will focus on the basic engineering design, completion of: supply agreements, regulatory approvals and necessary details for the JV incorporation, implementation and execution activities.

The MMA plant will be the largest ever built, with a 250kte annual capacity. It will use LI’s Alpha technology, which was first commercialised with its Alpha 1 plant which began operation in Singapore in November 2008. LI is a subsidiary of MRC acquired in 2009. The PMMA plant will be based on MRC technology and will have an annual capacity of 40kte.

MRC and SABIC have entered into this new partnership to further their strategic goals. MRC, the global leader in the methacrylates industry, will strengthen its leadership position by utilizing readily available raw materials in Saudi Arabia and building up a new production facility in the Middle East region. SABIC will broaden its specialty portfolio by drawing on the technological expertise of MRC.

Commenting on the partnership deal, Masanao Kambara, MRC President, said: “This partnership with SABIC will help us to meet long-term supply commitments to our MMA and PMMA customers. As the global leader we have a responsibility to ensure reliability of supply and this investment will enable us to deliver continuous improvement.”

Koos Van Haasteren, SABIC Executive Vice President, Performance Chemicals, commented that the joint venture operation would be the basis for a strategic entry into the acrylics business. “We will be building on a breakthrough technology, with a strong partnership and integrated feedstock,” he said. “Moreover, the global market for MMA is growing at a rapid pace. New applications are driving this increase in demand and we are committed to meeting our customer growth requirements worldwide”.

The MMA/PMMA joint venture is aligned with Saudi Arabia’s National Industrial Clusters Development Program, which seeks to expand and diversify its manufacturing sector and create opportunities in downstream industries such as construction, automotive, electronics, medical technologies and appliances. It can therefore be concluded that this project will have a positive impact on value creation in Saudi Arabia, enabling industry to move further downstream.