K 2013: Ascend - a nylon producer in ascendance

Houston-based Ascend Performance Materials, the world's largest producer of nylon 6.6 resins, is "extremely happy" with the shale gas boom. Scott Rook, Vice President of plastics for Ascend Performance Materials, explained why at the Ascend K conference today.

"As a fully integrated PA 6.6 producer, we also produce ADN (adiponitrile), a key intermediate chemical. We use unique propylene-based technology rather than the more commonly used butadiene-based approach. Shale gas is a rich source of propane gas that can be converted into propylene. The technology used for this conversion is called PDH (propane dehydrogenation) and there are several new investments being announced around the world."

According to Ascend, propylene offers a long-term advantage. "With the supply issues around butadiene, and the problems with price volatility, we think that being an integrated supplier based on propylene is a good choice - for customers as well," said Rook. "Shale gas is having a major impact on the American economy. The United States is projected to produce more natural gas by 2015 than Russia, and may well be producing more oil than Saudi Arabia by 2017." He added: "The increased propylene supply will lead to lower and more stable prices."

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