If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Kevlar jobs not bulletproof at DuPont

Move comes as part of an effort to outsource feedstock for bulletproof and fire-resistant fibers

by Marc S. Reisch
March 12, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 11

Photo of a technician inspecting bobbins of Kevlar p-aramid fiber.
Credit: DuPont
Kevlar p-aramid fiber bobbins.

DuPont will eliminate about 100 jobs and close a plant in Deepwater, N.J., as part of an effort to lower costs for intermediates used to make the bulletproof aramid fiber Kevlar and its fire-resistant cousin Nomex.

Instead, the Indian chemical maker Transpek Industry will supply the intermediates to DuPont’s fiber plant in Richmond, Va.

An insider says DuPont chose Transpek to supply the monomers, isophthaloyl chloride and terephthaloyl chloride, because “there are no other suppliers of these materials in the U.S.” The firm adds that Transpek’s technology is newer and more productive than its own.

Kevlar is made by reacting p-phenylenediamine and terephthaloyl chloride. Nomex is made by reacting m-phenylenediamine and isophthaloyl chloride.

The Deepwater site, known as the Chambers Works, is now owned by DuPont spin-off Chemours. The decision to stop making the intermediates there will allow DuPont to focus on “new products innovations and the modernization” of the firm’s aramid fiber plants, the firm says. The company source adds that DuPont is investing more than $50 million in its Richmond fiber-making operations.

The investment follows DuPont’s 2017 shutdown of its Cooper River Kevlar facility near Charleston, S.C. The firm opened the plant in 2011 at a cost of $500 million to meet rising demand for the fibers in armored vehicles, bulletproof vests, and firefighters’ turnout coats.

By 2016 DuPont was reporting declining fiber sales in oil, military, and industrial markets. Demand improved in 2017, but the firm closed the Cooper River unit in a cost-saving move.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.