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Arkema declares force majeure on Pebax elastomers

Arkema has declared a force majeure for Pebax polymers as a result of the fatal explosion at an Evonik plant in Marl, Germany on March 31. This plant was a major production source for CDT (cyclododecatriene) a chemical required in the production of Pebax, which is a thermoplastic elastomer made up of block copolymers consisting of a sequence of polyamide and polyether segments.

The shortfall in CDT is already causing a scramble for alternatives to nylon 12, particularly in automotive markets where it has been sole sourced for some applications such as fuel lines.

Pebax is used in a variety of markets, including medical, sport equipment, and power transmission. Pebax MED thermoplastic elastomer is specified for the manufacture of tubing used for many interventional catheters and minimally invasive devices. 

Foster Corp. (Putnam, CT), the official distributor of Pebax MED in North America, has been working with device manufacturers and processors to ensure ongoing supply for existing applications as well as new developments.  "Nevertheless, there remains a great deal of uncertainty and misunderstanding in the market regarding supply of medical grade Pebax polymer," according to a public relations representative for Foster.

The amount of CDT required for Pebax polymers is less than that of nylon 12, resulting in more polymer production for the same amount of raw material, according to Foster. "It is our understanding that Arkema has managed to secure some additional CDT volume from its other suppliers and continue production of Pebax polymers," Foster said in a statement on its Web site.

"Additionally, Arkema Inc. has recently announced their commitment to continue to service the medical; despite the supply crisis.  Therefore, given the existing levels of inventory, scheduled production plans for Pebax MED polymers, in conjunction with the continuous support from Arkema, we remain optimistic in our ability to fulfill customer's historically normal order patterns."

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