Caprolactam is the key molecule for nylon 6 production. Global production in 2011 was 4442ktes. Caprolactam is a derivative of benzene with 83% being produced via cyclohexane, 16% from phenol and the balance from toluene and recycled polymer. Essentially all caprolactam production goes into producing nylon 6 polymer. Caprolactam production technology is available for license from several companies and a number of refinements have been made to the original IG Farben synthesis. The majority of caprolactam plants produce significant amounts of ammonium sulphate as a by-product.
Demand for caprolactam is growing at 2.2% CAGR (2002-2022) in line with overall nylon 6 growth.