HMD, or to give it its full name, hexamethylenediamine, is a precursor used in the production of polyamide 6.6, an engineering plastic with outstanding heat resistance and rigidity commonly used in, for example, automotive and electronics applications, as well as yarn for airbag fabric.
For the most part, HMD is produced from fossil fuel resources. At least one nylon 66 manufacturer, Japan-based chemicals and fibre producer Asahi Kasei, is now about to change course. With demand for PA 66 set to rise worldwide and at the same time, the growing attention for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from chemical products derived from fossil fuels, the company has opted to explore the potential of bio-based HMD for its PA 66 production processes.
Asahi Kasei has therefore entered into a strategic alliance with San Diego-based Genomatica, a company that uses biotechnology and fermentation to convert plant-based ingredients into widely used chemical building blocks. Genomatica has developed, among others, technology to produce HMD based on biomass-derived raw materials. Under the present deal, Asahi Kasei obtains preferential rights to access the early volume of bio-HMD to evaluate the possibility as a feedstock of polyamide 66, enabling Asahi Kasei to accelerate trials of polyamide 66 made using biomass-derived intermediate.
These trials will advance the company’s journey towards becoming the first-to-market with more sustainable polyamide 66 made using biomass-derived intermediate for the automotive and electronics application of plastics components and industrial fiber. Using bio-HMD will also contribute to reaching its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
Asahi Kasei will continue to strive for the adoption of biomass-derived intermediates for its engineering plastics in addition to polyamide 66, while proactively utilising recycled material, aiming to be a global sustainable partner for its customers.
Asahi Kasei produces and markets nylon under the brand name Leona. In addition to polyamide 66, polyamide 6I, and polyamide 612 made using HMD, Asahi Kasei manufactures polyamide 610 using intermediate derived from castor oil. Asahi Kasei is the only polyamide 66 manufacturer in Asia with fully integrated production from raw materials to resin compounds, supplying material suited to various needs ranging from plastic mouldings for automotive and electronics applications to airbag yarn and fabric, and tire cord.