Impact

The contribution of engineering is the key to reducing the impact of human activities on the planet. Sustainable and clean technologies are in demand worldwide, and UK businesses are well-placed to take advantage of growth opportunities.

Recent research also shows that green business is good business: companies that grow their investments in sustainable practices are more productive and profitable than those that do nothing.

With its drive for continual improvement in process and efficiency, engineering underpins clearer, greener growth.

Case study

Case study

Methyl methacrylate (MMA) is one of the chemical industry’s most important building blocks and the foundation of the family of materials known collectively as ‘acrylics’. They are used everywhere – in touchscreens, cars, bathroom fittings, paint and architectural features. For decades, global use of acrylics has been significantly outpacing general industrial growth, and that is set to continue.

Lucite International may not be a household name, but it is the biggest name in acrylics and one of its big brands is Perspex®, first used almost 80 years ago.

Lucite has the kind of sustainability challenges that face many companies in chemical industries that have traditionally been based on hydrocarbons. The company is pioneering the introduction of biomaterials as feedstocks, specifically fast-growing plants that do not form part of the food chain, as well as using waste materials from other processes.

Over the past 15 years, Lucite International has developed the Alpha technology, a completely new route to MMA production based on readily available raw materials. Alpha has provided the opportunity to reduce capital investment and significantly improve operating economics. The Alpha technology has already delivered attractive yields compared to other MMA technologies, as well as cutting waste and emissions. Programmes to further improve raw material use and significantly reduce energy consumption are well developed.