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 Q1 2015
The global methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) markets are at least balanced in early 2015, if not on the long side for crude MDI in Europe. This is mainly linked to low seasonality in the downstream construction sector. In addition, supply has improved in Asia and the US compared with the second half of 2014. This is because a few plants in China are due to restart in January, following maintenance turnarounds at the end of 2014. In the US, the market has returned to a more balanced position, with two force majeure declarations lifted in the fourth quarter of 2014, along with soft demand. Prices are likely to continue coming off, with sizeable drops being discussed, particularly in Europe and the US, because of falling upstream crude and aromatic prices.
Toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) price sentiment is soft in early 2015 in Europe and the US, because of falling upstream crude and toluene costs. Supply in Europe is good and improving, with the new 300,000 tonne/year Bayer TDI plant at Dormagen in Germany having started up. In Asia, supply is expected to remain ample at the start of the year, following the restart of a major TDI plant in China in January after a recent one-month long maintenance turnaround. The demand outlook in Asia and Europe from the main downstream bedding and furniture sectors is expected to be healthy in the first quarter of 2015. In Europe, it is typically high season in the bedding and furniture sectors during the first quarter and trade fairs normally take place during this time, which are likely to showcase new products and stimulate further buying interest. In Asia, there is expected to be a flurry of activity at the start of the first quarter, ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays in the second half of February in several parts of Asia. US demand from the key downstream industries, such as bedding, furniture and automotive, remains healthy for the time being.
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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.