Published February 2015
Nearly 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 cyclohexanes intrinsic link to the polyamide chain and its use in automobiles, construction, and textiles, global cyclohexane demand remains strongly influenced by macroeconomic conditions. Cyclohexane is consumed largely for nylon 6 fibers, resins, and films. Only 7-9% of cyclohexane is used as a solvent.
In the United States and Western Europe, nylon demand continues to be lackluster as a result of reduced demand in fiber applications.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of cyclohexane:
The United States, Western Europe, and China are the main capacity centers for cyclohexane and much of the global demand is driven by China. Most regions are experiencing flat or declining demand for cyclohexane, while China continues to forge ahead with a robust rate forecast for 2014-19. In the next five years, global cyclohexane capacity is expected to increase by about 12%, propelled by the capacity surge in China.
Caprolactam is the leading end use for cyclohexane globally, accounting for more than 60% of the total in 2014. The United States, Western Europe, and China are the only three consumers of cyclohexane for adipic acid.
Despite mounting uncertainty, global demand for cyclohexane is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 2.4%. 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. Central Europe and South America are expected to experience no growth to very little growth in demand for cyclohexane over the forecast period. Additional derivative supply is likely to come through competing feedstocks (phenol).