The Caprolactam price reports are published weekly in Asia and Europe.
The independent pricing assessments cover spot and contract business, while the news and analysis provides an overview of market conditions, plus the impact on prices from demand/supply issues and upstream/downstream movements. The market intelligence in these reports provides you with a trusted reference which enables you to make informed and confident 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 Q4 2016
Players in the European caprolactam (capro) market expect prices to continue tracking the movement of feedstock benzene for the final quarter of the year, although other factors, such as the price of sulphur and ammonia and the cost of energy and natural gas may also prove important.
October will probably be the last month of good demand, with volumes expected to decrease in November and December ahead of the winter holiday season.
The main focus for European capro players is the need for a new market approach defined by stability, rationalisation and discipline so that margins can recover and the market is able to regain its sustainability. While stability is crucial for the survival of every business in the value chain, they have underlined the necessity for any problem to be resolved in steps rather than jumps.
Asia’s caprolactam prices are expected to be largely stable-to-firm amid tight supplies of the material. Several major producers shut or reduced capro operations in Q3, and tight supply levels are expected to keep prices afloat in Q4. In addition, global producers who previously sold cargoes to buyers in Asia are expected to divert cargoes to Europe and the US instead, where the netback is more attractive. Asian downstream demand for nylon products typically tapers towards the end of the year, and market players believe this may put a cap on any potential increase in capro prices.
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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.