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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We offer the following regional Caprolactam analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Caprolactam marketplace.
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Caprolactam: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2014
In Asia, an additional new capacity of 300,000tonne/year is scheduled to come on stream in the fourth quarter, solely in the China market. However delays are expected with poor caprolactam (capro)-nylon chain performance. Key deep-sea and regional producers will be undergoing maintenance work; however, market players are expecting limited impact on the market with the changes in supply due to poor downstream demand, high inventories of end-products with current reduced rates.
Capro chain players are expecting 2014 demand growth to rise around 1-2%. Players said that growth was mainly driven by recovery in the engineering plastics sector. 2015 demand is expected to be flat with demand in 2014. European polyamide chain sources are concerned that the second half of 2014 will see flat demand because of the approach of year-end. Demand in September has been limited by uncertainty over upstream cost movements, exchange rates, and macroeconomic conditions, causing players to move to the sidelines of the market until the situation becomes clearer.
Nevertheless, if demand does not increase in the next few weeks, downstream players are unlikely to ramp up, given the approach of year-end. Players destock at the end of each year to reduce working capital on year-end balance sheets.
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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.