The global demand for adipic acid is expected to grow at over 4% from 2013 to 2018

The global demand for adipic acid was estimated to be over 3,000 kilo tons in 2011, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 4% from 2013 to 2018. Asia Pacific is the largest consumer of adipic acid, owing to high production volumes of nylon and polyurethanes, followed by Europe and North America, together accounting for over 90% of the global demand in 2012. In terms of growth, Asia Pacific, especially China and India, is expected to be the fastest growing market at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2013 to 2018.

Nylon6,6 production is the largest application of adipic acid, accounting for over 85% of the total demand in 2011, followed by polyurethane resins and adipate esters. Adipic acid market has been volatile over the last two years with prices rocketing to over $3,000 per kilo since 2010, the global capacity utilization in 2011 was 86% compared to 95% in 2010. Owing to growing environmental concerns and the growing push for renewable chemicals, bio-based adipic acid has also gained significance over the past few years. Also, cyclohexane, which is a key raw material in adipic acid production, has seen price increase of over 150% since 2009.

The bio-based adipic acid space is witnessing significant activity from key participants such as Rennovia, BASF, Rhodia and Verdezyne, with full-scale commercialization expected in 2013-14. Engineering plastics, where the demand for sustainability is quite high is expected to be a critical new application for bio-based adipic acid. Also, bio-based adipic acid has the potential to open the technology for renewable nylon fibers. Adipic acid can be converted into adiponitrile which can be further converted to caprolactam, precursor to nylon 6,6. Presently, butadiene is used to produce adiponitrile as it is cheaper, but increasing butadiene prices have forced market participants to once again look at the bio-based adipic acid route.