Isocyanates Prices, markets & analysis
With a network of industry experts and analysts across Asia, Europe and the US, ICIS is fully equipped to keep you updated on everything that happens in the global isocyanates market, whether you buy or sell isocyanates or related products.
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Isocyanate overview Transcript
Toluene diisocyanate or TDI and methylene di-p-phenylene isocyate or MDI are the most common types of aromatic isocyanates. They are used mainly in the production of flexible and rigid polyurethane or PU foams.
Minor applications include coatings and adhesives. Most TDI output goes into the furniture and automotive sectors, and most MDI into construction. So demand for isocyanates is closely linked with economic performances.
Other factors which impact the price of isocyanates are the supply and feedstock values such as benzene and toluene which are in turn heavily dependent on crude futures pricing. China is the main user of TDI and MDI in Asia.
It has the largest manufacturing base due to a continuous increase in local demand and is the leading exporter for finished goods. Both TDI and MDI are greatly dependent on spot trades which are primarily driven by traders and producers.
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Isocyanates: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2015
In Asia, prices for polymeric methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (PMDI) are expected to rise on tightening supply from several plant turnarounds, while toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) prices are gauged as stable-to-soft on weak buying sentiment and long supply, despite several scheduled turnarounds.
In Europe, the PMDI price direction was mixed, as European participants noted stable PMDI demand, long supply, but rising upstream benzene prices. For April TDI, industry sources in Europe are expecting a stable-to-firm market amid normal demand and balanced-to-snug supply.
In the Middle East, PMDI and TDI prices are expected to remain stable-to-soft on ample supply.
In the US, TDI and MDI price direction could go either way in the second quarter because factors affecting the market are mixed. US sources noted ample global supply of isocyanates amid steady demand. TDI upstream toluene prices have been holding steady in March and early April. However, MDI upstream benzene prices fell from in February, but rose in April.
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MDI: Pure methyl diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) occurs as white to pale yellow crystals or flakes with a slightly musty odour. It is soluble in acetone, benzene, kerosene and nitrobenzene. It reacts readily with water to form insoluble polyureas and may polymerise under the influence of temperatures above 204oC.
MDI is made available both in pure form and as a mixture of MDI, the dimer and trimer. Mixed MDIs is referred to as polymeric isocyanates or PMDI.
MDI is used mainly in polyurethane (PU) foams. Rigid foams are mostly used in construction, refrigeration, packaging and insulation. Flexible foams are used in furniture, bedding and transportation. MDI is also used to make binders, elastomers, adhesives, sealants and coatings.
TDI: The main outlet for toluene diisocyanate (TDI) is in the manufacture of polyurethane (PU) flexible foams used in upholstery, mattresses and automotive seats. This is achieved by reacting the TDI with a polyol to produce the foam. Smaller uses for TDI include polyurethane elastomers and coatings.
TDI occurs as colourless to pale yellow liquid or crystals with a pungent odour. All isocyanates are hazardous and must be handled with care. Skin contact must be avoided, as redness, blistering and possible sensitisation can result.