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June 27, 2014

Evonik expands polyamide-12 capacity and develops bio-based production process

Mary Page Bailey

Evonik Industries AG (Essen, Germany; www.evonik.com) has expanded its polyamide-12 production capacity at the Marl Chemical Site by 5,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr), thereby increasing the supply security of its Vestamid high-performance polymer material. In addition, preparations have begun for increasing the production of Vestosint polyamide powder. For the further expansion of production, Evonik has developed an improved conventional process for producing polyamide-12. Significant progress was also made in the development of a butadiene- and cyclododecatrien (CDT) -free route.
 
For nearly 50 years, Evonik has operated a fully backward integrated plant for production of polyamide-12 at Marl Chemical Site, starting from butadiene, all the way through all precursors to the polymer. Originally a batch operation, the production facility was expanded to include continuous plants in the year 2000. The new expansion continues a policy of constant adaptation to market needs over the years. Powder capacities have also been continually increased.
 
The growth strategy is also underscored by the development of various technologies for the precursors of polyamide-12. The improved biosynthetic route based on palm kernel oil—free from butadiene and cyclododecatrien (CDT)—is far advanced. The process results in ω-amino lauric acid, an alternative to petroleum-based laurinlactam, and yields an identical polyamide-12. The initial batches of polyamide from this precursor have already been successfully processed to pipes and tested. Samples for customer tests will be available soon. The process offers several advantages: 100% renewable raw materials as a basis for polyamide-12, identical product properties, and a simpler production process.
 
Further results from the pilot plant, which has been operating for over a year, will be the basis for the selection of the process for the next capacity expansion of polyamide-12.

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