Ascend Finalizes $175 Million ADN Project in Alabama

03.01.2020 -

Progressing its upgrade of output capability along the PA 6.6 chain, Ascend Performance Materials announced just before the end of 2019 that it had finalized planning for an expansion of adiponitrile (ADN) capacity at its Decatur, Alabama, site in the US.

The $175 million project, which is benefiting from local and state economic incentives, foresees construction of a 90,000 t/y plant for the PA intermediate, along with cogeneration units that the former Solutia arm said will reduce the site’s environmental footprint by 60%.

Ascend already produces an estimated 400,000 t/y of ADN at Decatur. The US producer said earlier it would expand output by 180,000 t/y up to 2022.

MasTec Power Corp is the prime contractor for the latest upgrade, providing turnkey engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) solutions and support. Construction of the new capacity is due to begin in this year’s second quarter, with completion projected for late 2021.

Around ten “high end” manufacturing new jobs are to be created in the current expansion stage, but Michael Donmoyer, executive vice president of MasTec Power, said the knock-on effects should bring roughly 150 skilled jobs to the Decatur area in 2020 and 2021.

Ascend currently employs more than 400 people in Alabama. The company’s Decatur plant is one of only four large scale ADN plants worldwide. Invista, the market heavyweight, is planning to add 400,000 t/y of capacity at Shanghai, complementing its existing 150,000 t/y capability there. A start-up date has not been announced.  The company also operates AND plants at two sites in the US state of Texas.

BASF is now Invista’s co-owner of the Butachimie ADN plant at Chalampé, France, having bought Solvay’s 50% stake late last year. The French plant – the only ADN production in Europe – is being expanded six-fold to produce more than 600,000 t/y.

The PA starting material has been tight in the recent past, prompting the expansion surge.