The impact of COVID-19 pandemic can be felt across the chemical industry. The growing inability in the production and manufacturing processes, in the light of the self-quarantined workforce has caused a major disruption in the supply chain across the sector. Restrictions encouraged by this pandemic are obstructing the production of essentials such as life-saving drugs.
The nature of operation in chemical plants that cannot be easily stopped and started, makes the operational restrictions in these plants a serious concern for the industry leaders. Restricted and delayed shipments from China have created a price hike in the raw materials, affecting the core of the chemicals industry.
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The slacking demand from different impacted industries such as automotive is negatively influencing the growth of the chemical industry. In light of the current crisis, the market leaders are focused to become self-reliant which is expected to benefit the economic growth of different economies in the longer term. Companies are triggering events to restructure and recover from the losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adiponitrile or hexanedinitrile is a colorless organic liquid compound. It finds its major application as a precursor for polymer nylon 6-6 which is known for its high mechanical strength and hence finds an array of applications including conveyor belts, carpet fibers, and electro-insulating elements amongst others. Adiponitrile also finds its application, though to a much smaller extent as an intermediate for synthesis of corrosion inhibitors and rubber accelerators. The major market for adiponitrile is governed by its application in Nylon6-6 whose demand continues to sore across North America and Europe primarily due to automotive applications. Also the market for adiponitrile finds upward trend in Asia pacific countries like China, Malaysia and other south-east Asian countries chiefly due to availability of cheaper production facilities.
Adiponitrile is largely prepared by most common industrial route which was revealed by Dupont involving nickel-catalyzed hydrocyanation of butadiene. This process involves series of sub-products to finally produce adiponitrile as the outcome. Adiponitrile is then hydrogenated to produce hexamethylenediamine which is a vital component of Nylon6-6. Nylon 6-6 is prime substitute for Nylon 6 which finds applications requiring fittings in automotive applications, strings for musical instruments, ropes and tire cords. However Nylon 6-6 has better properties in high temperature applications and hence makes in suitable over nylon 6 in various applications.
The major applications which necessitate high temperature and strength include that of carpet manufacturing, hosiery and knitted garments (textile sector), tire ropes, gear wheels, plug parts, hydraulic brake lines and radiator housings for automotive industry. As Nylon 6-6 is light in weight and waterproof in nature it makes it appropriate for swim-wear. Adiponitrile is also used in production of adipic acid which is used in polyurethane applications like auto seating, footwear, thermal insulation amongst others. However adipic acid can be cheaply manufactured by other ways making adiponitrile a weaker option for this segment.
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Almost all the adiponitrile goes into production of Nylon 6-6 fiber and hence requirement of Nylon 6-6 drives the market. As Nylon 6-6 finds wide array of applications in manufacturing and automotive sector, growth of these sectors would fuel the need of adiponitrile. The requirement in this sector is largely dominated by the U.S., followed by developing countries like China and Malaysia. The requirement of Nylon 6-6 resin grows wider across Europe and the U.S. as a major engineering resin; this would enhance market for adiponitrile. The tyre-cord requirement would continue to grow as the automotive segment seems to grow at steady pace across Asia-pacific countries and developed countries. This makes the market for adiponitrile even more lucrative. Application for carpets, rugs and clothing fibers which belong to textile sector are likely to continue the growth owing to strengthening in textile industry. This will certainly act as a major driver in the requirement for adiponitrile in near future. However this market faces a stiff price competition due to cut-throat price rivalry and hence the major players in this segment are shifting their production sites to Asia-pacific countries. This has propelled to a large extent demand in China which would even advance further with tyre-cord requirement.
Some of the key participants in the adiponitrile market include
- Rhodia group
- Lyondellbasell Industries
- LG Chem
- China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation
- Evonik Industries
- The dow chemical company
- JSR Corporation
- Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation amongst others.
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