US Dow eyes construction for growth in PU foam demand

24 September 2013 03:42  [Source: ICIS news]

PHOENIX (ICIS)--Dow Chemical sees the construction industry and its growing need for better performing insulation as a key market for polyurethane foam, executives said on Monday.

Construction is a growing industry in North America. It is already large in Europe, although the region is still stuck in a slow economy, said Chris Chrisafides, commercial director, North America for Dow Polyurethanes.

Chrisafides was speaking on the sidelines of the Polyurethanes Technical Conference, hosted by the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI).

Japan is another strong market for polyurethane insulation because the country has a tradition of energy conservation, he said.

Polyurethane foam competes with two other common materials for insulation, glass fibre and cellulose, said Alan Robinson, global strategic marketing director, polyurethanes.

Among them, polyurethane has the best insulation properties. 

That quality alone will attract builders, who will need to comply with stricter energy-efficiency standards that are being adopted by developed countries, said Chrisafides.

However, Robinson said polyurethanes function as more than just an insulator. They create an air barrier between the inside and the outside of a building.

They also dampen noise and serve as a vapour barrier, he said. "You are not just providing insulation for the walls," he said.

A related end market is appliances, which are also falling under stricter energy-efficiency standards.

Designers of appliances often seek to meet these standards without bulking up on additional insulation, which would require them to redesign the shape of their products.

Other times, they want to add additional space in the interior of appliances such as refrigerators without increasing the product's overall size, Chrisafides said.

The technical conference runs through Wednesday.

By: Al Greenwood
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