The plastics and automotive industries are pulling together to solve the crisis caused by a sudden shortage in nylon 12, after a fire earlier this year shut down an Evonik Industries plant that makes cyclododecatriene (CDT), a nylon 12 feedstock.
Evonik is reportedly responsible for 40 percent of the supply of nylon 12, used in automotive fuel and brake lines. Other world suppliers of PA 12 are Ube Industries, Arkema, and EMS-Grivory.
Major plastics companies, including DuPont, Dow, and BASF, are working with automotive OEM and supplier companies via the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) to identify replacement materials and determine how to accelerate testing. Fuel line testing for substitute materials can span several months, but the AIAG said that world supplies available on April 24 might last only four to six weeks.
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.
On May 1, the AIAG held the third in a series of stakeholder meetings to find alternative materials and minimize the impact on supply chains. At this meeting, a committee approved an interim design verification plan and report to speed up the testing process for nylon 12 replacements for quick connectors, multi-layer tubing, and assemblies. The document can be downloaded from the group's Website.
Evonik is offering alternatives to nylon 12, also called polyamide (PA) 12. Extrusion and injection molding compounds based on PA 6/10, PA 6/12, PA 10/10, and PA 10/12 will be available in smaller volumes during plant repairs, which are expected to be done by the fourth quarter this year, the company said in a statement. These compounds do not require CDT as a precursor. They are suitable for use in automotive line systems due to technical properties and processability comparable to those of nylon 12.
DuPont is working with both industry associations and customers to identify alternative materials that can be used to help manufacture components in fuel and brake systems, Chul Lee, DuPont Performance Polymers' global business manager for long-chain polyamides, told us. DuPont offers several PA 12 alternatives, including three specialty Zytel nylon families -- 6/12, 10/10, and 6/10 -- which are based on long-chain polyamide technology.
Some of these are already used in fuel line applications, such as Zytel RS 10/10 nylon in Fiat's bio-diesel fuel lines and Zytel HTN PPA in fuel line quick connectors. Many are based on castor oil from the non-food crop castor plant. Other replacement resins include Hytrel thermoplastic elastomer and Vamac AEM heat- and fluid-resistant elastomers.