NEW YORK — Reflecting the upbeat demand for man-made fibers generally, BASF AG, Ludwigshafen, Germany, and its North American subsidiary, BASF Corp., Mount Olive, N.J., said they are expanding caprolactam and polycaprolactam production operations at Antwerp, Belgium, and Freeport, Tex.
Caprolactam is the raw material for type 6 nylon and polycaprolactam is polymer made from caprolactam.
The Antwerp expansion will increase caprolactam production there by 110 million pounds by the end of 1996 and includes a new plant to produce 132 million pounds of polycaprolactam during the second half of 1996.
The polymer plant will feature new process technology designed to yield improved spinning polymer characteristics. In addition to supplying the fiber industry, the polymers will be used in engineering plastics.
In addition to the European expansion, BASF has increased its caprolactam production at Freeport by 150 million pounds and is set to increase polycaprolactam production there by 35 million pounds by the second half of 1996. Another 100 million pounds of caprolactam debottleneckings are slated for Freeport over the next several years.
BASF currently produces 1.3 billion pounds annually of caprolactam and 325.6 million pounds of nylon 6 and nylon 6,6 polymer annually, of which polycaprolactam is a part.
“The expansions will help secure a strong market position for BASF nylon 6 and with that, BASF will continue to be the world’s largest nylon 6 producer, with production facilities in the U.S., Europe and, soon to be, Asia,” said Werner Burgert, president of BASF’s fiber products division.
As reported, BASF made its initial move to Asia last month with a pact with China Worldbest Corp. for a joint venture to make nylon 6 bulked continuous filament (BCF) carpet fibers and polymers. Plants will be built near Shanghai and will produce 88 million pounds of BCF nylon and 110 million pounds of nylon 6 polymer. Construction will begin early in 1996 and is slated for completion in 1998.