Polyurethane dispersion is a technology which comprises a two phase system of water and a polymer, having high molecular weight and belonging to the class of polyurethane and some optional components. Polyurethane products are commonly known as urethanes. Most of the polyurethane polymers are thermosetting polymers which do not melt when heated. These polymers were initially used for the production of fibers and flexible foams but today polyurethane has a wide range of application ranging from concrete construction like bridges and motorway structures to steel railway carriages and wooden furniture.
In addition to the construction industry, it is also used in the coating and adhesives, footwear, refrigeration and freezers industry. Polyurethane is also used in the production of medical gloves and manufacturing of furniture products. In terms of application, painting and coating industry represents the largest end user of polyurethane dispersion, where it is used as a film former or binders. Polyurethane dispersion has replaced the previously used solvent-based binders as they are more environment friendly as the latter used to use volatile organic chemicals (VOC) which causes serious threat to man and nature. Since then, demand for polyurethane paints and coatings has increased significantly. They are also used in painting and coating of metals, wood, plastics glass and textiles.
Polyurethane paints are used in ship and automobile construction using polyurethane clear coat.. In addition to ships and automobiles, polyurethane clear coat is also used extensively in the production of coats for pipeline, floor and balcony, building and roads. Polyurethane is rapidly gaining importance in the construction industry on account of its ability to offer durability and resistance against corrosion and weather.
In terms of output, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) account for the major consumption polyurethane dispersion technology. In 2010, limitations were set in Europe on the emissions of VOCs by the paints and coatings used for various industrial applications. The limit for VOC emissions was set to 50mg organic carbon concentration per m3 f air in most of the countries. Hence use of polyurethane dispersion having very limited VOC emission, gained importance. Resulting from this, production of polyurethane paints and coatings substantially increased. After EMEA, the industry wass dominated by Asia Pacific in terms of production, and is expected to witness the fastest growth over the forecast period. In Asia Pacific, China dominates the polyurethane dispersions industry .
Initially China was a more of an importer of polyurethane paints. Over the recent years, construction and manufacturing companies have increased in numbers in China, which has further boosted the demand of polyurethanes. Owing to this, the domestic production in China has increased rapidly with both large multinationals and local producers entering into the market. After EMEA and Asia, Demand for polyurethane technology was also prevalent in Latin America and North America collectively, where developed economies such as the U.S. accounts as the largest user for this technology, followed by Brazil.
The polyurethane market for paints and coating is experiencing healthy growth which is expected to continue in the near future, majorly driven by the growth in automotives and construction, particularly in Asia Pacific. A significant amount of innovations are made by various market players in order to be prepared to serve the high potential end-use industries in future. Some of the leading players in this market are Akzo Nobel N.C (Netherlands), PPG Industries (U.S.), Sherwin Williams (U.S.), Axalta Coating Systems (U.S.) and BASF SE (Germany).
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