PEP Review 78-3-1
Methyl Methacrylate from Ethylene
Published: January 1980
Methyl methacrylate can be made by the reaction of methyl propionate with formaldehyde. In this review, we assess developments which would increase the attractiveness of such a process.
Monsanto has disclosed a one-step synthesis of methyl propionate by the rhodium-catalyzed reaction of ethylene and carbon monoxide in the presence of methanol, which should lower the raw material costs. Developments by BASF to react methyl propionate with formaldehyde in the form of the more stable dimethylacetal of formaldehyde show potential for improving overall yields.
This review presents a screening evaluation of a route to methyl methacrylate that starts from ethylene and combines the two developments noted above. Our estimates indicate that for a 250 million lb/yr plant such a route appears to be more economical than the currently used one via acetone cyanohydrin, but to be somewhat less attractive than the route to methyl methacrylate which starts from isobutylene or t-butanol.