AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS — Dow Chemical Co. predicts steady world growth for polyurethanes, with faster market expansion in the emerging economies of Asia and South America.
Officials from Dow's Midland, Mich.-based PU business unit presented the company's plans for the near future at a news conference Sept. 30 in Amsterdam.
Dow estimates global PU consumption at 11 billion pounds for 1997. Of that total, Dow supplies 3.5 billion pounds of the basic building blocks of PU: polyols, methylene diphenyl diisocyanate and toluene diisocyanate.
Overall global growth in PU consumption is expected to increase 6-10 percent per year in Latin America and Asia, compared with a 5.5-6.5 percent increase worldwide.
``We expect to see rapid, near-double-digit growth, reflecting the developing purchasing power of many Latin American and Pacific nations,'' said David Fisher, polyols global business manager. ``These surprising growth rates are fueled by strong demand for mattress bedding, furniture, appliances and automotive products — consumer goods that rely on polyurethanes in their manufacture.''
Dow claims to be the world's largest polyol producer, with 13 plants. The company recently expanded polyol production at plants in Guaruja, Brazil, and San Lorenzo, Argentina. Capacity expansions for propylene oxide, a major component of polyether polyols, have been completed or are under way at Dow plants in Aratu, Brazil, and Freeport, Texas.
Dow also has expansion plans for isocyanates, which are combined with polyols to form either rigid (typically MDI) or flexible (typically TDI) foams.
In MDI, Dow recently started production of a downstream component, aniline, at a new, 286 million-pound-per-year plant in Bohlen, Germany. That material will be used by Dow's Stade, Germany, MDI plant.
For TDI, Dow has announced a 220 million-pound expansion at its Freeport facility for 1998.