Houston-based Ascend Performance Materials expects to share the benefits of its cost–advantaged position as the only completely fully integrated nylon 6/6 producer in the world that uses the propane dehydrogenation (PDH) method—or, C3-based technology, to make the key intermediate ADN (adiponitrile) compared to the more widely used C4 butadiene-based approach.
The company expects the shale gas revolution currently taking place in North America to result in a much more favorable future for polymer-grade propylene compared to butadiene which is likely to be short in supply and higher priced. Shale gas is a source of propane that drives on-purpose production of propylene using PDH technology; in contrast, it does not benefit butadiene production. Polymer-grade propylene from current and planned PDH units is expected to account for up to 25% of the monomer’s supply by 2015.
At K 2013, along with announcements on new compounding capacity and several new compounds for automotive and E/E applications, Ascend officials confirmed that plans to build a massive PDH plant at the company’s Chocolate Bayou complex in Alvin, Texas, is moving along as planned. It is scheduled to come on stream in fourth quarter 2015. PT asked v.p. of plastics Scott Rook if processors can expect to benefit from this development. “We prepare our contracts based on formulation, so we expect our customers to benefit as well in lower contract resin pricing.” Ascend maintains that the C3 route and their compounding technology results in ‘cleaner’ compounds, which translates for their customers to better cycle time, less downtime, lower tooling maintenance and often a 3-10ȼ/lb cost benefit.