A vast number of industries such as electronics, construction, and packaging use Polyurethanes for insulation, footwear, coatings, sealants, elastomers, and adhesives.
Polyurethanes are produced by reacting isocynates with polyols. MDI and TDI are key isocynates used as raw materials. As MDI and TDI are highly toxic materials, the polyurethane industry is highly regulated as well as heavily dependent on crude oil dynamics. Polyurethanes occur in two main forms; polyurethane foams, and polyurethanes elastomers. The wide range of polyurethane types, from flexible or rigid lightweight foams to tough, stiff elastomers, facilitates their use in a wide diversity of consumer and industrial applications. Apart from foams, polyurethanes are also used across a host of other applications.
Historically, MDI has been predominantly used to manufacture polyurethane foams. The largest application for MDI is rigid polyurethane foams which account for 56.05% of the global consumption of MDI. Rigid foams are mostly used in construction, refrigeration, insulation and packaging applications. MDI is also used to make coatings, adhesives, sealants, elastomers, and binders.
TDI is predominantly used to make flexible polyurethane foams which are the largest application for TDI. This is achieved by the reaction of TDI with a polyol to produce the polyurethane foam. Flexible polyurethane foams are mainly used in furniture, automotives, and bedding. The other uses of TDI include elastomers, coatings, adhesives and sealants, and rigid polyurethane foams.