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Published: March 2012
Practically all cyclohexane is used to make cyclohexanol and cyclohexanone, which, in turn, are used mainly as precursors for adipic acid and caprolactam, respectively. Other uses for cyclohexane include various solvent applications and the production of cyclohexanol and cyclohexanone for nonprecursor use. As a result of cyclohexane's intrinsic link to the polyamide chain and its use in automobiles, construction and textiles, global cyclohexane demand remains strongly influenced by macroeconomic conditions.
In the United States and Western Europe, nylon demand has been on a slow decline as improved automotive demand is offset by lows in carpet and construction markets. Mounting concerns over the Euro Zone crises, linked to a mediocre recovery from the global financial downturn of 2009, exacerbated demand challenges in the latter half of 2011. Global operating rates suffered as a result, falling to an estimated 74% for the year.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of cyclohexane:
Despite mounting uncertainty, global demand for cyclohexane is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 2.8%. Much of this growth will occur in China for caprolactam demand in nylon 6 and adipic acid used both as a feedstock for nylon 66 fiber and resins and for polyester-based hot-melt adhesives for shoe soles and other applications. The Middle East may also contribute near the end of the forecast period, pending completion of Chevron Phillips' announced nylon polymer facility in Saudi Arabia during 2015–2016.
Central and Eastern Europe and Central and South America are expected to experience flat to very little demand growth for cyclohexane over the forecast period. Additional derivative supply is likely to come through competing feedstocks (phenol). There is no known demand for cyclohexane in Africa or Oceania.