Ascend Performance Materials is busy at K 2019 with new grades of nylon 6/6 resin and updates on expansions and sustainability efforts.
"This is a great opportunity for us to engage with existing customers and to tell our story to people who might be new to Ascend," CEO Phil McDivitt said Oct. 16 at the event.
Houston-based Ascend ranks as one of the world's largest makers of nylon 6/6. New grades introduced at K 2019 include a copolymer series for films, a Vydyne ECO-brand series for electrical and electronic uses and a Vydyne ThermaPlus grade for cable ties and fasteners.
"We're committed to develop grades across those spaces so that we can diversify beyond automotive," McDivitt said.
The E&E grade is nonhalogenated and flame retardant. It can be used in circuit breakers and electric and hybrid vehicles. The film grade can be used to make films that are 40 percent more puncture-resistant than nylon 6 films, officials said. The ThermaPlus grade provides temperature resistance up to 230° C for cable ties and fasteners in under-hood auto applications.
Technology Senior Vice President Vikram Gopal added that the firm is developing grades of nylon 6/10 and 6/12 for higher-end auto applications as well as monofilaments.
"From a performance angle, 6/10 and 6/12 can take us to the next level," he said.
Ascend also continues to work on increasing capacity for key raw materials as well as for nylon 6/6. Officials said the firm is making progress with an expansion that will add almost 200 million pounds of annual production capacity for adiponitrile (ADN) feedstock at its plant in Decatur, Ala.
Tight supplies of ADN had caused shortages in supplies of nylon 6/6 for most of 2018. McDivitt said that improved production, lower demand from the auto market and geopolitical issues now have created a balanced nylon 6/6 market.
"Our ability to add capacity in smaller increments is an advantage, since it allows us to bring on as much as the market needs," he explained.
On the sustainability front, Ascend is in the process of building a cogeneration unit in Decatur that will reduce that site's dependence on coal. Doing so will reduce the plant's carbon footprint by 60 percent. The new cogeneration unit is expected to be operational by 2022.
Ascend operates six plants in the U.S. and Europe and employs 3,200. Earlier this year, the firm acquired its first production site outside of the U.S. when it bought a compounding firm in Tilburg, Netherlands.