Caprolactam is an important organic chemical raw material. Due to its special structure, it is mainly used as a monomer of polymers and generates polyamide 6 (PA6) chips through polymerization. Different brands of PA6 have different slice properties and their application fields are also different. After processing, PA6 is widely used in textiles, packaging, automobiles, electronics, machinery and other fields. In addition, it can also be used to produce antiplatelet drugs 6-aminocaproic acid and laurel azadron, etc. At present, the industrial production technology of caprolactam mainly includes ammoximation process (HAO), hydroxylamine phosphate process (HPO) and toluene process (SNIA). Among them, the HPO process developed by Dutch DSM Company and the HAO process independently developed by Sinopec Group Corporation are relatively mature and advanced manufacturing technologies in the world today, and are also the main processes currently used at home and abroad.
Global production and sales have grown steadily
In recent years, the world’s caprolactam production capacity has grown steadily. In 2019, the world’s caprolactam production capacity increased to 8.119 million tons/year, mainly concentrated in Northeast Asia, Western Europe, North America, and Central and Eastern Europe, totaling 7.804 million tons/year, accounting for approximately 96.12% of the total production capacity.
Mainland China is currently the world’s largest producer of caprolactam, with a production capacity of 4.19 million tons/year in 2019, accounting for approximately 51.61% of the world’s total production capacity; followed by the United States, with a production capacity of 803,000 tons/year , accounting for about 9.89%; Belgium is again with a production capacity of 540,000 tons/year, accounting for about 6.65%.
In recent years, world caprolactam consumption has grown steadily. It increased to 6.40 million tons in 2019. Mainland China has the largest consumption. The consumption in 2019 was 3.370 million tons, accounting for approximately 52.66% of the total consumption.
About 52% of the world’s caprolactam consumption is used for PA6 fiber, 27% is used for PA engineering plastics and films, and 21% is used for other aspects.
The consumption structure of caprolactam is different in various regions of the world. The consumption of caprolactam in Northeast Asia is dominated by the production of PA6 fiber, accounting for approximately 73.5% of the total caprolactam consumption in the region. The consumption of caprolactam by PA6 engineering plastics and films accounts for approximately 23.4%; the consumption of PA6 fiber in North America is approximately 57.2%, nylon 6 engineering plastics and films account for about 25.1%; the consumption of nylon 6 engineering plastics and films in Western Europe accounts for about 53.5% of the total caprolactam consumption in Western Europe, and the consumption of nylon 6 fiber accounts for about 18.2%. It is expected that in the next few years, world caprolactam consumption will grow at an average annual rate of 3.2%, with total consumption reaching approximately 7.5 million tons by 2024, with growth mainly coming from countries or regions such as mainland China, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.
China’s production capacity has steadily increased to become the largest producer
From 2017 to 2020, my country’s caprolactam production capacity has steadily increased. As of October 2020, my country’s caprolactam production capacity reached 4.390 million tons/year, making it the world’s largest caprolactam producer. In addition to large state-owned enterprises (such as Sinopec Group Corporation), investment entities also include joint ventures (such as Nanjing Fubangte Dongfang Chemical Co., Ltd.) and private enterprises (such as Shandong Haili Chemical Co., Ltd.). In terms of enterprise types, coal chemical enterprises (such as Hubei Sanning Chemical Co., Ltd.), chlor-alkali enterprises (such as Shandong Haili Chemical Co., Ltd., Luxi Chemical Industry Group Co., Ltd., etc.), chemical fiber enterprises (such as Baling Hengyi Caprolactam Co., Ltd. ) have also joined in the production and operation of caprolactam.
my country’s caprolactam production equipment is mainly concentrated in provinces and cities such as Fujian, Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shanxi. The production technology is mainly HAO method and HPO method. The main raw material of the domestic production process is cyclohexanone. Upstream, most petroleum benzene is purchased, and some use hydrogenated benzene. There are many factors that cause cost differences, including raw material prices, supporting auxiliary engineering facilities, transportation costs and quality indicators. For the same process, different factories have different costs due to different sources of raw materials or different supporting facilities such as steam, hydrogen, sulfuric acid, etc. The HPO method is a production technology introduced from the Dutch company DSM, and is currently used by most domestic companies. It is a caprolactam production technology with independent intellectual property rights jointly developed by Sinopec Baling Petrochemical Company and the Petrochemical Science Research Institute on the basis of digesting and absorbing foreign technology, represented by Sinopec Baling Petrochemical Company. The 200,000 tons/year device put into operation by Fujian Yongrong Technology Co., Ltd. in 2019 is the fourth generation of hydration method and HAO technology, which has certain improvements over traditional technology.
Domestic demand continues to increase
In recent years, with the rapid development of my country’s nylon yarn, cord fabric, polyamide engineering plastics and other industries, the demand for caprolactam The demand is constantly increasing. In 2019, my country’s apparent consumption of caprolactam was 3.372 million tons, a year-on-year increase of approximately 11.3%.
In recent years, my country’s caprolactam has not added new consumption areas. It is still dominated by downstream consumption such as civilian spinning, film and engineering plastics, and cord fabrics, but the proportion of downstream consumption has changed significantly. The proportion of civilian spinning decreased slightly, from 60% in 2012 to about 50% in 2019; the proportion of film and engineering plastics increased from 18% in 2012 to about 25% in 2019, and nylon 6 curtains Cloth accounts for about 17%, and others account for about 8%.
With the increase in residents’ income levels and changes in consumption concepts, people are pursuing more comfortable, lightweight, high-end and personalized clothing, and the excellent characteristics and extremely high differentiation rate of PA6 fiber can exactly To meet the increasingly diversified demands of consumers and driven by consumption upgrades, demand for PA6 fiber is expected to grow rapidly. At present, domestic PA6 fiber plays an important role in all chemical fiber production.The proportion in China is only 6.8%, which is lower than the global proportion of about 9%. In comparison, my country still has considerable room for improvement in the future. On the other hand, the proportion of engineering plastics in my country’s PA6 consumption structure is still several times behind that of developed countries. There is great consumption potential in the fields of biaxially oriented films, new energy vehicles, electronic appliances, rail transportation, etc., and there will be considerable growth in the future. amount of space. It is expected that my country’s demand for caprolactam will reach 4.20 million tons in 2024.
Five suggestions for future development
1. Considering that large-scale integrated equipment for upstream and downstream supporting equipment is the future development trend of the industry, the domestic ammoximation process will still be It is the focus of future development. Therefore, the research and development of relevant new technologies should be further strengthened to reduce production costs, improve product performance, and achieve green production.
2. In the next few years, China will still have 600,000 tons/year of Jianyuan Coal Coking Co., Ltd., Etuoke Banner, Ordos City, Inner Mongolia, 100,000 tons/year of Hubei Sanning Chemical Co., Ltd., Inner Mongolia Kingho Group 200,000 tons/year, Fujian Yongrong Technology Co., Ltd. 400,000 tons/year, Fujian Shenyuan New Materials Phase II 600,000 tons/year, Baling Petrochemical relocated and built 600,000 tons/year (actual increase 30.0 0,000 tons/year), Jiangsu Sanding Petrochemical Technology Co., Ltd. 200,000 tons/year, Hebei Cangzhou Xuyang Chemical Co., Ltd. 350,000 tons/year and Yankuang Lunan Chemical Co., Ltd. 300,000 tons/year and many other new or Expansion of caprolactam production facility. If these projects can be implemented as scheduled, it is expected that my country’s caprolactam production capacity will exceed 6.50 million tons/year in 2024.
With the release of the capacity of newly built and expanded caprolactam production units, the problem of overcapacity will further intensify, and market competition will become more intense. In the future, capacity should be expanded rationally, layout should be rational, and disorderly competition should be avoided. Manufacturing enterprises that have been completed and put into production should increase technological transformation and increase the research, development and application of new energy-saving and emission-reducing technologies to save energy, reduce costs, reduce environmental pollution, achieve environmentally friendly production, and enhance the competitiveness of enterprises. Enterprises planning to build or expand should comprehensively consider their own strengths and weaknesses, analyze various factors and industry risks, and cautiously join market competition.
3. PA6 fiber and PA6 resin are still the main consumption areas of caprolactam in my country, but the growth rate of PA6 fiber’s demand for caprolactam will slow down, and PA6 resin will become the main direction and driving force for future development. In addition, caprolactam mainly faces competition from polyester products in the field of consumer yarns, from polyester cord fabrics from radial tires in the field of bias tire cord fabrics, and from polytrimethylene terephthalate in the field of carpet yarns. (PTT) competition. Therefore, we should continue to expand application areas, increase product added value, and reduce the impact of substitutes.
While expanding the existing caprolactam market, we will also strengthen the development of downstream products, such as introducing alkyl, vinyl, methyl, acetyl, arylsulfonylaminoethyl, tetrahydrofuran, etc. to the nitrogen atom of caprolactam. Alkyl ammonium halide, butyl and other groups can achieve a variety of functions in the fields of medicine, biology, and chemical industry, increase the added value of caprolactam products, and achieve sustainable development of the caprolactam industry.
4. Extend the industrial chain and integrate upstream and downstream development. At present, the caprolactam market competition has shifted from single product competition to overall industry chain product competition, from competition between single enterprises to competition between industrial chains. The realization of integrated development of upstream and downstream can not only stabilize sales channels, but also effectively avoid market risks, and can quickly form an industrial chain and gain development space.
5. Suppress the dumping behavior of similar foreign products in my country, consolidate anti-dumping results, and create a fair competition environment for domestic caprolactam; actively expand exports, resolve the contradiction of domestic overcapacity, and ensure the healthy and steady development of the caprolactam industry. </p