12 July 2013 19:31 [Source: ICIS news]
By Joseph Chang
NEW YORK (ICIS)--Global polyurethanes (PU) demand growth is primarily being driven by product substitution, the chief executive of Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) said on Friday.
"PU growth is typically driven substituting for other materials - from metal to formaldehyde resins to polyester and epoxy resins," said Patrick Thomas, CEO of BMS.
Thomas spoke to ICIS on the sidelines of an event featuring the Solar Impulse ultra-lightweight solar powered airplane at JFK Airport in New York.
"It is a function of basic economic growth and substitution," he added.
For automotive and potentially aerospace application, BMS is developing elastic compounds such as PU-carbon-fibre and PU-glass-fibre composites. These can be used as to make automobile crash bars, aerospace components, as well as longer lasting blades for windmills, said Thomas.
BMS is also developing elastic polycarbonate (PC) and glass-fibre composites, which can be thermoformed into car bodies and aerospace components, he added.
"Right now PU is primarily used in seating systems (in airplanes and cars). Only recently have they been considered for advanced uses," said Thomas.
In the Solar Impulse, which flew across the US from San Francisco, California, to New York City in six legs, BMS provided PU components for the cockpit, wing tips and engine casings, as well as PC for the window.
"This is a great way to showcase our technology and how we work to solve technical problems," said Thomas.
"Unlike a concept car, the Solar Impulse actually had to work. It was about setting targets, collaborating and delivering," he added.
For PU precursors globally, MDI demand is growing at 7-8% annually while TDI demand is growing at 4-5%, said Thomas.
In the US housing sector, BMS is seeing stronger growth for MDI-based resins as they replace formaldehyde resins in wood composites because of new environmental regulations, he noted.
Another PU growth opportunity is in more energy-efficient refrigerators.
"One of the PU foams used in the Solar Impulse is going to be used in a 3-star rated (highest energy efficiency rating) refrigerators in Europe which will also have thinner walls," said Thomas.
"Trials are happening now and we should see this in the market in 2014," he added.
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