When a Japanese chemical factory blew up over the weekend, it looked like baby bottoms would be most affected. Nippon Shokubai is one of the world’s largest producers of acrylic acid, which in turn is a key ingredient for the making of disposable diapers. Apart from causing a diaper dearth, the explosion also “may send shock waves through the auto industry,” as The Nikkei [sub] says.
Acrylic ester is used in auto paints, and especially in top coats. Kansai Paint Co. and Nippon Paint Co supply more than 90 percent of the automotive paint used in Japan, and relied on Nippon Shokubai for more than 50 percent of acrylic ester purchases. Companies are trying to buy acrylic ester from overseas suppliers, but “it will take several months” for carmakers to test the quality of a new paint, a Kansai Paint official told The Nikkei.
According to the Tokyo paper, “the impact may spread to other areas of the auto industry: The Himeji factory also made an automotive catalyst for exhaust control, as well as special additives for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene resins, a material widely used in car interiors and other applications.”
(Hat tip to Daniel Duesentrieb.)