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Invista looks to become a big player in nylon 12 market

By: Frank Esposito

January 7, 2014

Materials firm Invista has filed several patents for nylon 12 feedstock, in a bid to enter the nylon 12 resin market.

The new technology would position Wichita, Kan.-based Invista as "a significant supplier of nylon 12 polymer, providing solutions to meet growing industry needs," officials said in a recent news release.

Nylon 12 supplies became a huge issue in early 2012 when a fatal fire and explosion at a plant operated by Evonik Industries AG in Marl, Germany, limited global supplies of cyclododecatriene (CDT) feedstock, causing severe global tightness of nylon 12 resin. That, in turn, caused automotive suppliers to scramble to find replacement materials for nylon 12, which is used extensively in fuel lines and braking systems.

The Evonik CDT plant was up and running by the end of 2012. Invista officials now are saying that the firm "will seek market input and feedback almost immediately" and expects to begin nylon 12 product qualifications as early as 2015. After qualifying the material, Invista plans to begin scale-up of the new process in preparation for full-scale nylon 12 manufacturing.

"If the pilot is successful, Invista would become the first new, fully integrated nylon 12 producer in more than 30 years," C12 intermediates global business director Ed Sullivan said in the release. "We believe Invista's nylon 12 technology is simpler and more efficient than existing technologies."

Sullivan also addressed the recent nylon 12 shortage, saying that Invista's nylon 12 chemical intermediates "were critical to assisting the market during the industry's shortage in 2012."

"Since then, in an effort to provide this market with more supply options, we have been researching novel approaches to the production of nylon 12 monomer and other long-chain molecules," he added.

During the nylon 12 shortage, several materials firms — including Celanese Corp., Rhodia Group, DSM NV and DuPont Co. — offered resins that they said could be used in place of nylon 12. At the K 2013 trade show in Germany in late 2013, Evonik officials said the firm had regained all of the nylon 12 sales volume it had lost during the shortage.

Invista ranks as one of the world's largest makers of nylon 6/6 resins and compounds. The firm is owned by industrial conglomerate Koch Industries Inc. of Wichita.