Caprolactam Prices, markets & analysis
ICIS provides independent and unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis for the global Caprolactam market. Our network of price reporters, based in Asia, Europe and the US, deliver local insight for each of these markets, which is published in our individual weekly and daily price reports.
If you buy or sell Caprolactam or related products, our reports, news and market intelligence will give you the prices and analysis of the factors driving the prices that you need to make confident commercial decisions.
Caprolactam Overview Transcript
Caprolactam is an intermediate used in the production of nylon 6 fibres and resins. Around 70% of caprolactam is consumed in the production of nylon 6 for textiles, carpets and industrial yarns with the rest used in engineering resins and films.
Nylon 6 textile fibres are used to dye to give deep and bright shades, while offering high strength and light weight and can be combined with spandex fibres to give good stretch-fit properties.
Nylon six resins are increasingly used as engineering plastics. Packaging films manufactured from nylon 6 have a good combination of mechanical, optical and barrier properties.
Small amounts of caprolactam are used in cross-linking for polyurethanes.
Caprolactam is a widely traded product, with Europe one of the main exporting regions to Asia. Europe has the capacity to produce 1.9m tonnes/year of caprolactam, while global output is put at 4.9m tonnes/year.
Owing to strong demand in Asia, where downstream demand is exceeding caprolactam production, a high volume of European caprolactam has been and continues to be flaked for export to Asia.
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Caprolactam: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2014
The majority of European caprolactam (capro) buyers and sellers expect oversupply in July and August given the end of a heavy maintenance turnaround and traditional demand patterns which see consumption fall during the summer months due to end-user holiday outages. Market sources have forecast July demand to fall 10% compared with June.
LANXESS's new 90,000 tonne/year nylon 6 virgin polymer plant in Antwerp, Belgium, has started production, a company source confirmed. The plant is producing on-spec material and utilisation rates are being ramped up. The €75m investment was first announced in 2012 and was originally scheduled to begin operating in the first quarter of 2014. Capro players expected this to result in a rise of LANXESS' captive use of its capro production, easing European structural oversupply.
The third-quarter outlook in Asia is bearish amid market uncertainty with strong upstream prices and weak trading momentum for downstream products, making it difficult to increase nylon chip prices, thereby squeezing in on margins across the nylon-capro value chain. Although there will be around 435,000 tonnes/year of new capacity coming on stream, players think that market impact will be limited due to oversupply and poor market performance.
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Caprolactam occurs as white, hygroscopic flakes or crystals with a distinctive odour. It is soluble in water, cyclohexane, chlorinated hydrocarbons and is usually used, stored and transported in liquefied form at about 80oC.
Caprolactam is an intermediate primarily used in the production of nylon 6 fibres and resins. Nylon 6 fibres are made into textile, carpet and industrial yarns.
Nylon resins are noted for their performance properties including high tensile strength, excellent abrasion, chemical and heat resistance. They are the basis of engineering plastics, used in electronic and electrical components and automobiles, and oriented polyamide films used widely in food packaging.
Conventional caprolactam technology is based on the key intermediate cyclohexanone, which is usually produced by the oxidation of cyclohexane. Cyclohexanone is then reacted with hydroxylamine sulphate to produce cyclohexanone oxime. This is followed by a Beckmann rearrangement using oleum to yield caprolactam.