Polyurethanes are manufactured by the reaction of a polyol with an isocyanate - the isocyanates most commonly used are MDI (methylene diphenyldiisocyanate) and TDI (toluene diisocyanate), though small volumes of aliphatic diisocyanates (ADI) are used in some speciality applications. Many different kinds of polyurethane materials are produced from a few types of isocyanates and a range of polyols with different functionality and molecular weights.
Polyurethanes are primarily used in three major sectors:
The main polyurethane systems are highly or partially cross linked systems though Thermoplastic Urethanes are an established and growing market. The more rigid the Polyurethane structure the greater the degree of cross linking required. Thus the polyurethane formulation may contain a tri-or-higher functionality polyol, a cross linking agent and also a chain extender. As foam structures are desired for the bulk of the polyurethane foams, a blowing agent is also utilized. Thus the polyurethanes value addition is in the recipe formulation and technology adaptation required for each application and this is done typically in the so-called polyurethanes systems houses.
The isocyanate used is generally application specific, with the majority of flexible foam produced using TDI, while all rigid foams use MDI. In the other sectors, the isocyanate is chosen according to specific performance requirements, with a mixture of more than one isocyanate sometimes used. Polyurethane foams are most profusely used due to their eminent properties such as low cost, easy availability, chemical resistance, insulating properties, and recyclability. Flexible PU foams are used for cushioning in furniture, bedding, and automobile while the rigid PU foams are used for construction and insulation. Driving factors for PU foams are increased use of refrigerants and increasing concerns for energy efficiency (rigid PU foams) & increased lifestyle and construction activities around the globe (flexible PU foams).
Asia-Pacific is the largest market owing to increasing lifestyle and construction activities of PU market. As of 2018, BASF has set a proposal to expand their methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) plant. Moreover, companies such as Dow Chemicals, Covestro and Lubrizol have also invested in increasing production capacities of polyurethane globally. Major applications include home furnishing, building & construction, automotive, consumer appliance, footwear, transportation, and others.
Prismane Consultings Isocyanates and Polyurethanes integrated Market models has covered all aspect and every minute details of all the products right from raw material to the elastomer and its usage in each and every sector applicable. Herfindahl index (Herfindahl-Hirschman Index) has been calculated to highlight the market concentration.