The worldwide nylon 12 shortage is forcing automakers and suppliers to look at alternative materials with chemical, heat, and salt resistance for flexible tubing. Many of these alternatives are bio-based polyamides such as extruded grades of Rhodia's Technyl eXten PA6.10. (Source: Rhodia)
@Ann: Thanks for this informative article on a timely topic. I had heard that Evonik provided feedstock for as much as 80% of the nylon-12 supply, not 40%, as the article states. Of course, even 40% represents many tens of thousands of tons. It's no exaggeration to say that everyone is scrambling for an alternative.
I'm a little surprised you didn't mention Arkema's Rilsan nylon-11, which is based on castor oil and which you covered in an article a couple of months ago. According to that article, it is already being used in fuel line applications.
Schulman's Schulamid nylon-6,12 is another product worth mentioning. It's not renewably sourced, but could potentially be a drop-in replacement for nylon-12 in extruded hoses.
The fact that the industry was able to pull together through AIAG and come up with a common test strategy was a major accomplishment.
It will be interesting to see if any of the substitute materials catch on in the long run, or if everyone will go back to nylon-12 as soon as it becomes available again. There is certainly a potential for long-term use of renewably sourced plastics to increase as a result of this situtation. It all depends on how well they perform and how much they cost.
naperlou, I was surprised to discover that the industry could go through such a shakeup when only one supplier went offline. Apparently, DuPont and others have already been working on replacements for awhile, as the supply has been tightening due to increased demand from other industries: solar and oil/gas.
This situation shows that there are real risks in the global supply chain. While this global supply may be effecient due to scale, there are many possibilities for disruption. I would have throght that the consumers of these materials would have plans in place before something like this happens.
A few weeks ago, Ford Motor Co. quietly announced that it was rolling out a new wrinkle to the powerful safety feature called stability control, adding even more lifesaving potential to a technology that has already been very successful.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
People who want to take advantage of solar energy in their homes no longer need to install a bolt-on solar-panel system atop their houses -- they can integrate solar-energy-harvesting shingles directing into an existing or new roof instead.
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