Global Processing

Value of polyurethane to rise, report predicts

June 18, 2012

NEW YORK — The global market value of polyurethane will rise in the coming years, with thermal insulation potentially becoming a key material application, predicts a new report by business analysts GBI Research.

The report states that polyurethane rigid foams made from Methyl Diphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI), which have been used for thermal insulation purposes in developed countries for years, are now gaining acceptance in other regions and boosting the global demand.

In Europe, the energy performance of buildings is seen as key in achieving EU Climate & Energy objectives: cut 20% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and make a saving of 20% on energy expenditure by the same year.

Polyurethane rigid foam as an insulation material is becoming more widely used in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as Central and South America, as governments formulate more policies promoting energy efficiency and conservation. For example, China’s Ministry of Finance recently announced it was to allocate 1.7 billion RMB ($11 billion) to support construction energy efficiency programs in the country under its 12th five-year plan, and this growingly relevant material is expected to be an important part of this effort.

The global demand for polyurethane has steadily increased, due in no small part to Asia’s booming economies. Furthermore, GBI Research expects worldwide demand to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.8% from 12,018,579 tons in 2010, to 16,882,412 tons in 2016, with the Asia-Pacific region accounting for over 60% of this figure.

Over the last decade, polyurethane manufacturing companies have moved into Asia in order to take advantage of lower production costs. The increase in the number of production facilities in countries such as China is considered to be the primary reason for demand growth — an assertion reinforced by an Asia-Pacific share of 53.5% of the total global demand in 2010.

GBI Research’s analysis shows that flexible and rigid polyurethane foams made up the bulk of the total end-use segment in 2010, accounting for 60% of the full amount. These materials, which are commonly used in the construction, automotive/transport, furniture and footwear industries, are expected to continue as the leading polyurethane products in the coming years.