Polyurethane (PU) foams vary from rigid or flexible foams to stiff or strong elastomers. Rigid and flexible foams comprise 59% of the PU industry. Rigid PU foams are mainly used for insulation and broadly used in construction and refrigeration sectors.
Volumes of the rigid polyurethane (PU) foams market are estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2013 to 2020. The market will be worth around USD 20 billion by 2020. This may be attributed to growing construction sector in emerging economies; especially India, Brazil, and China. Governmental support for using rigid PU foams in refrigeration applications in the U.S. would also boost global sales.
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However, the rigid polyurethane (PU) foams market faces certain challenges. Accelerated production expansion in China has created overcapacity. Also, volatile prices of benzene and crude oil contribute to fluctuations in the costs of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and methylenediphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) – the basic PU raw materials.
The market is segregated into products and geographies. Product segments are slabstock polyester, slabstock polyether, molded foam parts, and others. Slabstock polyether, exceeding 34% volume share, dominated the rigid polyurethane (PU) foams market in 2012. It has high thermal efficiency, making it suited for geotechnical installations and building insulation. The sector would grow at a CAGR of nearly 8% from 2013 to 2020.
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Slabstack polyester accounted for 23% of the total volumes in 2012. Its advantages include higher tear resistance and loading capacities. It is anticipated to be the fastest-growing product (CAGR of 5.5%) over the next seven years. Consumption of molded foam parts will surpass 1, 000 kilo tons by 2020.
Regional segments comprise North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Rest of the World (RoW). Asia Pacific, with over 39% volumes, led the market in 2012. Robust construction industry in China and India should make it the fastest growing region in the forthcoming years. Europe stood second (in terms of shares) in the rigid polyurethane (PU) foams market in 2012.
The expanding construction sector in Poland, Russia, and other Eastern European countries would further the region. North America held a share of about 19% in 2012. Brazil and Argentina are the key upcoming regions. Leading players of the global rigid polyurethane (PU) foams market encompass BASF SE, Huntsman Corporation, Dow Chemical Company, and Bayer Material Science.
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