Published June 2015
Virtually all adiponitrile consumption is for hexamethylenediamine (HMDA) production and globally nearly all consumption of HMDA remains closely tied to demand for nylon 66 fibers and resins. Growth in nylon 66 markets is propelled by China and will continue to increase demand for precursors like HMDA. During 2009–14, world consumption of hexamethylenediamine grew at an average annual rate of 5.8%.
The mature nylon fiber market has the largest influence on world HMDA demand. This correlation, however, plays a less dominant role in Japan and a decreasing role in the United States and Western Europe, as nylon resin begins to account for a larger share of the HMDA market. Demand for fiber continues to be lackluster especially in the United States and Western Europe, with overall demand growing at a rate less than that of GDP.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of HMDA:
Although nylon fibers are the largest global market for HMDA, growth is expected to be driven more by nylon 66 resin consumption over the next five years. China continues to forge ahead with strong, robust growth in nylon 66 applications, with strong growth expected for HMDA and adiponitrile over the next five years.
Most HMDA demand growth in North America and Europe will continue to result from increased demand in the nylon 66 resin industry, primarily in automotive applications such as exterior automotive body components, under-the-hood components, and some mechanical components. Consumption of nylon 66 resins in the automotive industry is expected to grow at or faster than GDP as the auto industry continues to accept nylon over metal for a variety of automotive components. Other growing nylon 66 resin applications include electronic applications, film, and extrusion coatings.
HMDA is one of the two components used to manufacture nylon 66; the other component is adipic acid. With the goal of producing 100% bio-based nylon resins, start-up companies such as Rennovia, Verdezyne, BioAmber, Celexion, and Genomatica have developed bio-based routes to produce adipic acid; some have reached advanced pilot or demonstration scales. Developers believe that they will be able to produce lower-cost bio-based adipic acid using nonfood agricultural feedstocks, which are much lower in cost than hydrocarbon-based feedstocks.
Many new investments are being made in this sector, including the bio-based nylon development deal signed by Ajinomoto and Toray Industries in 2012. On 5 August 2014, Genomatica initiated a development program focusing on bio-based production technologies for HMDA, caprolactam, and adipic acid.
Bio-based nylon resins can be used to manufacture an array of consumer goods and in medical applications. The main comparison between conventional methods of nylon production and the bio-based methods is the price competitiveness and economics of the raw materials and production processes.
Global consumption of HMDA is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of almost 3%, with the rate of growth declining somewhat in the United States and Canada, and growth rates of 13–14% in China and Taiwan.