The global Polyol market size is estimated to be USD 36.7 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 49.3 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 6.1%. Polyols are one of the main raw materials used in the manufacturing of polyurethane. Other materials like isocyanates such as toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and polymeric isocyanate (PMDI) are also used in the manufacturing process. Polyols are compounds containing multiple hydroxyl functional groups. As per the number of hydroxyl groups in the molecule, these are called diols, triols, tetrols, and so on. There are two types of polyols – polyether polyols and polyester polyols.
Polyols can be used across various applications, including flexible polyurethane foam, rigid polyurethane foam, and CASE (coatings, adhesives & sealants, and elastomers). Polyols are one of the main raw materials used in the manufacturing of polyurethane, which is mainly used in the industries like building & construction, automotive, furnishings, packaging, electronics, and others like footwear.
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The demand for polyols is mainly furnished by global players manufacturing for various end-use industries. Some of the leading companies involved in the manufacturing of polyols are The DOW Chemical Company (US), Covestro AG (Germany), Shell chemicals (US), BASF SE (Germany) and Huntsman (US). These companies, along with other regional companies, cater to the demand for polyols globally.
The Dow Company (US) is a global chemical and material company. The company’s portfolio includes coatings & performance monomers, construction chemicals, consumer solutions, crop protection, electronics & imaging, and energy solutions. The company serves major industries such as agriculture, consumer goods, food & beverage, packaging, paints & coatings, paper, personal care, energy, building & construction, electronics, leather and textiles, oil and gas, cleaning solutions and power and water. It has a presence in all the major regions of the world such as Europe, APAC, North America, the Middle East and Africa, and South America.
Covestro AG (Germany) is a major premium polymer materials company. The company operates through two business segments, namely, Performance Materials and Solutions and Specialties. The second segment i.e., Solutions & Specialties includes Engineering Plastics, Coatings and Adhesives, Tailored Urethanes, Thermoplastic Polyurethanes, Specialty Films and Elastomers. These segments cater to various end-use industries such as furniture, automotive, electronics, aviation, construction, medical technology, and so on. The company provides polyols through its polyurethanes business segment. Covestro runs operations in around 50 production sites in Europe, Asia, and United States.
Shell Chemicals (US) is a specialty chemical company engaging in global energy business and exploration, production, refining, and selling of oil and natural gas. The company operates in different segments – Upstream, Integrated Gas and Renewables and Energy Solutions (formerly New Energies), and Downstream. Shell is a multinational collection of energy and petrochemical firms with over 80,000 people across more than 70 countries. Among the top suppliers of polyether polyols, which are essential for the creation of polyurethanes such as foams for furniture, bedding, car seats, and insulation applications, and Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants, and Elastomer (CASE) systems, are Shell chemicals businesses. It has a presence in America, Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific, the Middle East
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Some companies have initiated the following developments:
- In December 2021, Covestro launched a new technology called the Triturn which is basically a new polyurethane elastomer system that uses CO2 technology. The new bend restrictor system was recently recognized with the UTECH Europe Award 2021 in the CASE category. It enables the reuse of CO2 as a valuable material source in polyol production and allows for a reduction of up to 20% in the amount of fossil raw materials that are typically used to make polyol.
- In September 2022, Covestro introduced sustainable polyols. The company started manufacturing polyether polyols using bio-circular feedstock. This approach will have better quality and reduced carbon footprint as compared to the fossil fuel based raw materials.
- In October 2022, BASF SE collaborated with REMONDIS Electro recycling, RAMPF, Eco Solutions for working upon a project that produces high-quality recycled polyols on par with those made from main fossil raw sources.
- In November 2021, Shell chemicals did investments in a 35,000 tonnes per annum polyols unit at Shell Jurong Island, Singapore that employs techniques to increase energy. It will begin manufacturing in 2023.
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