The global Isocyanates markets are covered weekly by ICIS in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the US. All the reports have price assessments on methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) and toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) for spot business and, where applicable, contract or domestic activity.
The up-to-date market news and analysis is collated by our locally based reporters and includes regional activity, upstream and downstream movements, production schedules, graphs and, in some instances, historical data. This provides you with a valuable tool to base your commercial judgements on.
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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 2017
In the US, even though toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) prices recorded cumulative increases of 22 cents/lb during the last two months of the prior quarter, sources say that supply remains tight and that this could support further price hikes in the first quarter. For methyl di-p phenylene isocyanate (MDI), price increase initiatives of 7-8 cents/lb were announced before the New Year for January. MDI prices are also likely to be stable-firm depending on how much, if any, of these increases will be implemented.
European TDI players face further increases as the shortness in the market continues. There is no indication from BASF as to when its facility at Ludwigshafen is due back on line and this uncertainty is likely to affect negotiations in the first quarter. MDI supply should improve in the first quarter of 2017 as supply issues that dragged into late 2016 have been resolved. Following numerous price hikes connected to this shortness, buyers may try to reverse the price increases of the previous year.
In Asia, TDI prices are set to edge lower in the first quarter as buyers are mostly on the sidelines as they expect prices to retreat following the spikes seen in September and October last year. MDI prices, however, are expected to trend firmer due to tight supply from an ongoing turnaround at one of Chinese producer Wanhua Chemical’s two Ningbo MDI plants and a scheduled turnaround at its other Ningbo MDI plant in February/March.
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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.