Methacrylate Monomers: Cassel Site


Cassel Site


With a history dating back over 80 years, Cassel has a large number of integrated chemical plants, which are operated to the highest Safety, Health and Environmental standards and in accordance with the Company’s philosophy of continuous improvement. It has taken its Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) – a measure of how well a manufacturing operation is utilised – from a level of around 65% in 2000 to well over 90% today.

Since 2007, the site has been independently audited and achieved ‘Excellent’ in the Company’s ‘Manufacturing Excellence’ programme – a reflection of the world class manufacturing practices that are being continuously applied across the site.


Investing in sustainable supply for our customers

Lucite International is unique in the methacrylate market because of its dedication to customers within the merchant market. In order to ensure there is robust and sustainable supply for our customers into the future, Lucite International continues to invest in existing and new manufacturing assets at the Cassel site. The site team is proud of the results achieved from significant manufacturing improvements:

  • We were the first MMA producer to successfully adopt a three-yearly overhaul cycle (the norm being two-yearly shutdowns) and were able to release additional capacity for our customers as a result
  • We were recognised with the Excellence in Engineering award from the Chemical Industry Association in 2012.

Investing in environmental sustainability

Excellent progress has been made in reducing energy usage and emissions, with on-going investment and reduction targets being a core part of the site strategy. The chart shows % change in CO2 per te MMA + MAA compared to the 2005 baseline:


Safety is our number ONE value

Lucite International is proud of the exceptionally high standards of safety it achieves across all of its manufacturing assets, which are further exemplified at Cassel. On-going investment and a strong commitment to continuous improvement has led to the site’s outstanding safety, health and environmental performance record.


Investing in our talented people, their skills and knowledge

People make the site at Cassel all that it is today. With an average length of service of 22 years, their knowledge, experience and passion for going further in all that they do makes unique contribution to our relationships with our customers, suppliers and industry partners.

The site is committed to recruiting and developing highly skilled and engaged employees who strive to add value. It actively participates in:

  • Sponsoring and training apprentices and mature entry trainees

We have over 20 apprentices and mature entry trainees working in electrical engineering, business administration, the laboratories and with the production teams. Each apprenticeship combines college study and hands-on work to gain both knowledge and essential experience.

  • Recruitment from the Young Scientist Advanced Apprenticeship
  • Recruitment from the Electrical & Instrumentation Apprenticeship Programme
  • Recruitment from the Chemical Technician Advanced Apprenticeship Programme
  • (CTAA) & the Tees Valley Production Technician Programme (TVPT)
  • Recruitment from the Business Administration Apprenticeship Programme
  • Supporting an innovative Ex-Forces Production Technician Programme
  • Work placements and work experience
  • The Year in Industry Scheme
  • Graduate recruitment schemes
  • Work with schools and community projects to help young people locally

We have won the ‘Team of the Year’ through Business in the Community three years in a row for our community work which ranges from helping school children with their reading to team challenges carrying out gardening, painting in underprivileged areas.

Brief history of Cassel and the launch of Alpha technology

The name ‘Cassel’ dates back to 1884 when a New Yorker, Henry Renner Cassel, set up The Cassel Gold Extraction Company with funding from a group of Scottish businessmen. Originally chlorine was thought to be the solution for the extraction of gold; however it turned out to be useless as it dissolved both the gold and all other elements present in the ore. Cyanide was found to provide the answer so the process was patented and The Cassel Cyanide Company was registered for business (Henry Cassel had long since unlawfully sold his shares and fled to the USA!)

  • 1927 ICI took over the company, established a presence at Billingham
  • 1930 – ICI began cyanide production
  • 1934 – Methyl Methacrylate first produced at Cassel
  • 1939 – Cassel Works became the new name
  • 1940/50s – Methacrylic Acid production on a batch basis began in the 1950s
  • 1960/70s – Methyl Methacrylate (MM6) plant brought on stream in 1961 and MM7 (still in operation today) followed in 1963
  • 1980/90s – further expansion
  • 1992 – Methyl Methacrylate (MM8) plant opened alongside the existing MM7 plant, doubling the site’s capacity of MMA, marking a new era as it incorporated the Sulphuric Acid Recovery Plant (SAR), which processes the by-product acid from the MMA plants
  • 1994 – research and development work began on a completely new route to Methyl Methacrylate (Alpha technology)
  • 1999 – ICI sold the Acrylics business to Charterhouse and Ineos. This period saw investment in the assets and growth in production capabilities, leading to more product availability for our customers.
  • 2002 – Lucite International was formed and the sodium cyanide plant was closed at the end of 2007, allowing the Cassel site to focus on the production of methacrylates
  • 2008 – construction, commissioning and operation of Alpha 1 (the first totally new route to MMA for over 30 years) at Lucite International’s site on Jurong Island in Singapore
  • 2009 – Alpha 1 capacity was expanded and Lucite International was acquired by Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd beginning a period of further investment
  • 2017 – Lucite International becomes a group company of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation