Düsseldorf, Germany — Strong demand from automotive and other markets is leading Ascend Performance Materials LLC to add nylon 6/6 compounding capacity at one of its U.S. locations.
Houston-based Ascend will add a twin-screw extrusion line at its plant in Foley, Ala., in the first half of 2017, Technology Vice President Vikram Gopal said in an Oct. 20 interview at K 2016. He added that the new capacity is needed to handle increasing sales to customers in the automotive, electrical/electronic and consumer/industrial sectors.
Ascend also has been steadily adding polymerization capacity at its Vydyne-brand nylon 6/6 resin plants in Pensacola, Fla., and Greenwood, S.C., according to Gopal. The firm added in-line compounding in Pensacola in 2013, allowing for compounds to be made in a single operation.
“Automotive is a big piece of what we do,” Gopal said. “We're seeing a lot of demand for [nylon 6/6] in under-hood applications such as cooling loops.” In that application, Gopal said the expected heat range has increased from 115° to 125°C up to a range from 120° to 132°C, as smaller engines run hotter.
Ascend also has seen a trend of some air intake manifolds moving back to nylon 6/6 from nylon 6 or polypropylene.
“Nylon 6/6 as a material is almost 80 years old, but it's still an exciting material with room for innovation,” Gopal added.
In addition to new high-temperature grades of nylon 6/6, Ascend has added a grade for food packaging films.
The material can improve shelf life for meats and other products, Gopal said, allowing for downgauging while also extending shelf life and reducing food waste.
Ascend employs 3,000 worldwide. Private equity firm SK Capital Partners of New York has owned Ascend since 2009, when it bought the integrated nylon business of Solutia Inc.