Kevlar jobs not bulletproof at DuPont | March 12, 2018 Issue - Vol. 96 Issue 11 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 96 Issue 11 | p. 17 | News of The Week
Issue Date: March 12, 2018

Kevlar jobs not bulletproof at DuPont

Move comes as part of an effort to outsource feedstock for bulletproof and fire-resistant fibers
Department: Business
Keywords: Polymers, DuPont, Kevlar, Nomex, aramid fibers, job cuts
Kevlar p-aramid fiber bobbins.
Credit: DuPont
Photo of a technician inspecting bobbins of Kevlar p-aramid fiber.
Kevlar p-aramid fiber bobbins.
Credit: DuPont

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.

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Elizabeth Cates (March 12, 2018 12:48 PM)
What does this mean for Kevlar-containing products that require Berry amendment compliance?
Alasdair Carmichael (March 14, 2018 8:26 AM)
I believe the requirement is that the yarn is produced in the USA, not the raw materials, so it would still be berry compliant if the Kevlar/Nomex is made in Richmond
Tim Hix (March 19, 2018 12:29 AM)
So, great job by GOP and Trump to save jobs!

Was it poor management (or greed?) by DuPont over the years to let this happen or just the inevitable march of progress?

Such a long supply chain will be an increased challenge.
deeann (July 30, 2018 3:40 AM)
Does anyone know the market size of intermediates Kevlar and Nomex globally? How important are these intermediates revenue wise?
John Nivin P.V (August 24, 2018 12:28 PM)
As we all know kevlar is essential material for industry,ballistic and protective purposes.As a Textile diploma holder I took a seminar on the subject Kevlar and its uses.Kevlar material have a lot of applications ,the material fabric made based on the end use.If we think about a covering to the clutch plate of vehicles which run on Manuel transmission the clutch plate won't worn out and will survive more due to this we can decrease a lot maintainance work to the gear box and clutch. Thank you

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