Isocyanates Prices, markets & analysis
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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 Q3 2014
In Europe, producers are proposing methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) price increases on firming feedstock benzene prices, but MDI demand is not strong and supply is balanced. Toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) plant turnarounds are scheduled for the third quarter, but downstream demand declines in the summer. New world-scale TDI capacities from BayerMaterial Science and BASF are starting by end-2014 and early 2015, respectively.
In Asia, MDI is expanding capacity at a China plant and fewer maintenance turnarounds are scheduled to take place in the third quarter of 2014. Bearish sentiment in the TDI market could continue in the third quarter. Demand at the beginning of the third quarter usually slows in Asia because of the monsoon season in India and religious celebrations in some countries through the end of July.
In the US, MDI prices were assessed up by 5 cents/lb in July on tight supply after several maintenances during the peak summer season, and fresh hike initiatives are being heard for August. TDI prices remained flat into July despite producers’ increase proposals. Demand from the US automotive sector is healthy, while business continues to improve in other sectors.
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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.