Invista, the polymers and fibers arm of Koch Industries, plans to invest more than $1 billion to build a new adiponitrile plant at a still-to-be-determined location in China.
Adiponitrile is converted into hexamethylenediamine, which is reacted with adipic acid to make nylon 6,6, used in engineering polymers and fibers. The intermediate is only made at four major plants worldwide and is currently in tight supply because of strong demand for the polymer. Adiponitrile is also the starting point for hexamethylene diisocyanate, a raw material for polyurethane coatings.
Invista hopes to begin construction of the new plant, which would have more than 300,000 metric tons per year of annual capacity, in 2020. It would start up in 2023.
“The last world-scale plant was constructed more than 35 years ago, so this is a special time for the industry,” says Kyle Redinger, vice president of Invista Intermediates Asia-Pacific. While Invista supplies adiponitrile for its own nylon production, it is also the world’s largest supplier of the chemical to third parties.
At an IHS Markit World Petrochemical Conference presentation in Houston last March, Brendan Dooley, global director of engineering polymers for IHS, told the forum that supplies of adiponitrile have been beleaguered by supply outages related to weather, technical difficulties, and other factors.
Adiponitrile producers have been responding to short supplies with incremental expansions. Competitor Ascend intends to grow its capacity by 220,000 metric tons through a series of projects by 2022. Invista is rolling out new technology upgrades to its plant in Victoria, Texas, and at its Butachemie joint venture with Solvay in France.
In addition, Invista has invested more than $600 million in China over the past five years, building new hexamethylenediamine and nylon 6,6 plants in Shanghai.
At the conference, Dooley noted that China has imposed 30% import duties on U.S. nylon 6,6 since 2009, which likely influenced Invista’s decision to invest in China in recent years.