U.S. polyurethane consumption rose 34.2 percent from 1991 to 4.26 billion pounds last year - a growth trend expected to continue in 1995. Traditional end-use industries lead the increase, said Christopher L. Wadsworth, project manager with Allegheny Marketing Group. Wadsworth presented the findings of a recent PUs end-use market study at Polyurethanes 1995, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. Polyurethane Division's meeting in Chicago, held Sept. 26-29.
SPI commissioned Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Marketing to gather the information from questionnaires and interviews with company officials representing the PU industry and end-use markets.
According to the survey:
The U.S. construction industry consumed 966 million pounds last year - 56.6 percent more urethane than in 1991, or 22.7 percent of the market.
Polyurethane use in the transportation sector grew 33.4 percent the past three years to 851 million pounds in 1994, or 20 percent of the business.
Carpeting urethane usage jumped 36.5 percent during the past three years to 464 million pounds, or 10.9 percent of U.S. PU usage last year.
The construction, transportation and upholstered furnishings industries continued to account for more than half of the total consumption, according to the report, ``1994 Polyurethane End-Use Market Survey.''
Not all of the ``big three'' end-use markets, however, grew since 1991, Wadsworth said. Consumption in furnishings dropped to 598 million pounds last year from 633 million pounds in 1991. Four years ago furnishings held 19.8 percent of the market; in 1994 the group held a 14 percent share.
Consumption in the appliance sector increased 100 million pounds, or 59 percent, since 1991.
By product, flexible foam PU usage jumped 25 percent to about 2 billion pounds last year from 1.6 billion pounds in 1991. Approximately 76 percent of the flexible foam consumed last year was slab, with the remainder molded.
Rigid foams accounted for about 1 billion pounds last year, with nonfoam PUs (coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers) taking the remaining 1.26 billion pounds.
Polyurethane usage in nontraditional segments - bedding, textiles and fibers, packaging, tanks and pipes, machinery, footwear, marine, foundry, wheels and tires, electronics and other - rose 66.5 percent since 1991 to about 1.3 billion pounds last year.
``This comprehensive end-use market confirms that polyurethanes and their inherent versatility continue to play a critical role in the manufacture of an assortment of consumer and industrial products,'' said BASF Corp.'s Richard Mericle, chairman of the SPI Polyurethane Division.