MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sumitomo Chemical Co. (Tokyo, Japan) has decided to construct a pilot facility for chemical recycling of acrylic resin (PMMA, poly-methyl-methacrylate) at its Ehime Works in Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan, according to Chemical Engineering.
The new facility is scheduled to begin pilot tests in the fall of 2022 and to start providing samples in 2023. In parallel with this project, the Company will work to develop a recycling system for PMMA, from collection of used acrylic resin to recycling and reprocessing into products, aiming for early commercialization of chemically recycled PMMA.
Acrylic resins, which possess the highest level of transparency among synthetic resins as well as superior weatherability and processability, are used in a wide range of applications, such as automotive tail lamp covers, electrical appliances, aquariums, outdoor signboards, liquid crystal displays, building materials, and protective partition panels to reduce the spread of droplets. Global demand for acrylic resins exceeded 1.3 million tons in 2020, and is expected to continue to grow steadily in the future.
In response to ever-growing environmental awareness, Sumitomo Chemical is working on the development of various chemical recycling technologies in-house as well as in collaboration with other companies and academic institutions. For acrylic resin chemical recycling, the Company has been pursuing development in collaboration with The Japan Steel Works, Ltd. (“JSW,” headquartered in Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo), combining JSW’s continuous plastic decomposition technology using twin-screw extruders with Sumitomo Chemical’s expertise on MMA (methyl methacrylate) monomers and acrylic resins that it has cultivated over the years.
With its own basic technology to pyrolyze acrylic resin and regenerate it as MMA monomer, which is used as a raw material, now successfully established, Sumitomo Chemical has decided to construct a pilot facility. The acrylic resin produced by re-polymerizing MMA monomer obtained by this technology is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the entire product life cycle by more than 60% compared to virgin materials produced from fossil resources, while maintaining the same level of basic properties, such as transparency and strength.
As MRC informed previously, Sumitomo Chemical and Sekisui Chemical are moving forward with a project to convert plastic waste into polyolefin, targeting to start up a pilot plant to produce ethylene as a first step. Sumitomo Chemical has recently established a cooperative relationship with Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd. for the social implementation of the technology to manufacture polyolefin using waste as raw material.
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall production of unmixed PVC totalled 580,500 tonnes in the first seven months of 2021, up by 4% year on year. At the same time, one producer reduced its output.
The main sector consuming approximately 75% of MMA is the production of polymethyl methacrylate acrylic plastics (PMMA). Methyl methacrylate is also used to produce methyl methacrylate-butadiene-styrene copolymer (MBS), used as a modifier for polyvinyl chloride (PVC).