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
In Asia, growth in downstream nylon sectors, expected in 2014 due to a macroeconomic uplift, will look to improve performance in upstream caprolactam (capro) expansion activities in nylon polymerisation plants in 2014 and help to digest a greater volume of capro, easing the oversupply situation in the market. In the first quarter, market activity has been slow and players are not expecting wide price fluctuations, although that would depend on upstream benzene prices as well.
The majority of the European polyamide chain is forecasting demand growth in 2014 of up to 5% year on year with macroeconomic recovery.
Nevertheless, any growth will depend on GDP figures in 2013, and there remain some significant concerns over demand growth and production capacity in the European capro market.
Capro players remain concerned that an additional 500,000 tonnes/year of capacity due to come on line in China will place additional downward pressure on European prices. Although new capacities were added in 2013, technical problems at new plants and delays to plants reaching high-grade material production have shielded Europe from the impact on export demand.
Updated to mid-Jan 2014
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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.