Methacrylic acid, abbreviated MAA, is an organic compound. This colorless, viscous liquid is a carboxylic acid with an acrid unpleasant odor. It is soluble in warm water and miscible with most organic solvents. Methacrylic acid is produced industrially on a large scale as a precursor to its esters, especially methyl methacrylate (MMA) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). MAA occurs naturally in small amounts in the oil of Roman chamomile.
In the most common route, methacrylic acid is prepared from acetone cyanohydrin, which is converted to methacrylamide sulfate using sulfuric acid. This derivative in turn is hydrolyzed to methacrylic acid, or esterified to methyl methacrylate in one step. In the second route, isobutylene or tert-butanol are oxidized to methacrolein, then methacrylic acid. Methacrolein for this purpose can also be obtained from formaldehyde and ethylene. Isobutyric acid can also be dehydrogenated to methacrylic acid.
Methacrylic acid is used in preparation of methacrylates and carboxylated polymers; in the production of the material or its alkyl esters, as monomers or comonomers for synthetic resins for the production of plastic sheets, moldings, and fibers.