In this issue, we pay special attention to polyurethanes, a major chemistry used in adhesives. As such, the state of the polyurethanes industry is of keen interest to manufacturers, formulators and applicators of adhesives.

The ¿End-Use Market Survey of the Polyurethane Industry in the United States and Canada,¿ addresses the current state of the entire industry. The study reveals that the polyurethane (PUR) industry will grow at a rate of 3.1 percent (3 percent in the United States, 3.7 percent in Canada) annually through the year 2000. Fran W. Lichtenberg, executive director, Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry (API), presented the survey results at the closing session of the API-sponsored Polyurethanes Expo¿99, Orlando, Fla., last September.

The study, conducted every two years, analyzes PUR industry growth by material type, end-use applications and raw-material consumption.

The report determined that the total PUR consumption in 1998 for all end-use applications in the United States and Canada was 5,824 million pounds (lb). The study also states that the top five polyurethane end-use applications in 1998 were construction, transportation, furniture, carpet cushion and appliances.

Projected volume in 2000 in the United States and Canada is 6,174 million lb ¿ approximately double the number of pounds consumed over the past decade since usage was first tracked in 1989.

The report demonstrates that construction and transportation, the industry¿s two largest end-use applications, experienced growth rates of 12.2 percent (1,347 to 1,511 million lb) and 20 percent (1,095 to 1,314 million lb), respectively, from 1996 to 1998.

Overall, flexible polyurethane foams accounted for 42 percent of total polyurethane demand; rigid polyurethane foams represented 26 percent; and coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers (CASE) accounted for 32 percent of total polyurethane demand.

To provide additional insight into polyurethanes demand in its entirety, coatings accounted for 9 percent; binders, 7 percent; elastomers, 4 percent; adhesives, 4 percent; sealants, 3 percent; reaction injection molded (RIM) polyurethane, 3 percent; thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers (TPU), 2 percent; and spandex fibers accounted for 1 percent of the total polyurethanes market.

Small end-use applications (less than 250 million lb in consumption) experienced an increase in polyurethane consumption from 1996 to 1998. Among the leaders were electronics, textiles and fibers, marine applications, and tanks and pipes. Footwear, however, experienced a 10 percent drop in consumption between 1996 and 1998.

The API also examined the demand for polyurethane raw materials:

  • Overall, polyether polyols had the highest demand of all polyurethane raw materials in 1998 (1,931 million lb).
  • Polymeric MDI was second with 1,301 million lb.
  • TDI was third with 739 million lb.

The report, based on interviews with polyurethane chemical end-users, formulators and producers, was sponsored by the Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry, a business unit of the American Plastics Council, and conducted by Chemical Market Resources of Houston. For further information on the ¿End-Use Market Survey of the Polyurethane Industry in the United States and Canada,¿ please contact API¿s Leomie Brown at 202-974-5325.