Evonik plant blast leaves US autos scrambling for nylon 12

17 April 2012 22:16  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The plant blast at Evonik Industries's cyclododecatriene (CDT) plant in Marl, Germany, has taken out an estimated 40% of the world's nylon 12 capacity, leaving automotive customers scrambling to find alternatives, sources said on Tuesday.

The US automobile industry was holding an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the shortage of nylon 12, also known as polyamide 12 (PA 12), media reports said. The shortage followed the 31 March explosion at the Evonik plant, which makes the feedstock for the resin.

With the uncertainty of nylon 12 supplies, producers of other types of nylon material are trying to find alternatives.

Rhodia produces nylon 6, 10, and it is working with customers seeking replacements for nylon 12, a company spokesperson said.

DuPont is also working with customers to find alternatives, spokesperson Carole Davies said. "The challenge is more than a one-material solution though,” she said.

Likewise, BASF is also trying to mitigate the shortage, said Susan Jackson, communications manager for engineering foams, plastics and specialty plastics for BASF.

"Regarding CDT (cyclododecatriene) specifically, we are a very small manufacturer of this PA12 precursor and we have already offered to support Evonik to the extent we are able,” she said.

At the recent NPE plastics conference, US compounder A Schulman was promoting the use of nylon 6,12 as an alternative to nylon 12.

Not only does nylon 6,12 meet the same chemical resistance factors as nylon 12, it also has a higher melting point and therefore could be used for more applications, said Joe Ocampo, product and applications development manager for A Schulman. 

Nylon 6, 12 is also more readily available and lower priced than nylon 12, Ocampo said during the conference.

Nylon 12 is used to make automobile parts, such as fuel tanks, brake- and fuel-line coatings. It is also used to make solar panels and cable coverings used in offshore oil and gas production.

Nylon 12 supplies had already been tight because of demand from energy production. The 31 March explosion made the market even tighter.

($1 = €0.76)


By: Wesley Busch
+1 713 525 2653



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