Published April 2015
Adipic acid is one of the most important of the commercially available aliphatic dicarboxylic acids. Almost all adipic acid produced is derived from cyclohexane, although a small amount is made from phenol.
The major markets for adipic acid are in use as a feedstock for nylon 66 resin and fiber production; the remainder is consumed in nonnylon applications, including polyurethanes, plasticizers, food additives, and pharmaceuticals.
Use in the production of nylon polymers as well as polyester polyols, which are used in hot-melt adhesives for shoe soles and other products, continues to grow swiftly. Nylon 66 industrial filament will be the fastest-growing market for adipic acid in the forecast period, driven by growth in China.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of adipic acid:
Nylon 66 fibers and engineering resins accounted for approximately 58% of total adipic acid consumption in 2014, although nylon 66 chip is a much larger market for adipic acid. Steady automobile and electronic manufacturing will be the basis for continued demand growth in nylon resins, while economic recovery and superior processability and performance will contribute to fiber consumption.
Of the 42% consumed in nonnylon applications, around 5-10% was in food additives, 8-12% in polyurethanes, 5-8% in plasticizers, and 10-12% in other miscellaneous applications such as fillers, paper additives, cosmetics, polyester molding agents, lubricants, and other chemical intermediates.
Using the top down approach, Asia drives the global adipic acid market, with total regional consumption increasing at an average of 5.5% per year in 2014-19. Consumption in North America, Japan, and the European countries will stagnate at the current levels or even decline slightly. The North American market is saturated; the United States represents more than 89% of total regional consumption, with no growth anticipated in the next five years. The Middle East and Africa are expected to show the highest growth, increasing at an average annual rate of 8.5%; this growth will be driven by new nylon 66 chip/resin and fiber end uses. In terms of magnitude and growth, China leads the pack; in 2014, China represented 27% of total global consumption with an estimated growth of 7.2% per year in 2014-19.
In the next five years, world consumption is expected to slow to an average rate of 2.8% per year.