Producers of polyurethane foam for building construction are receiving a big push from China's government.
``There is lots more work to do in terms of promoting PU in the market,'' said Li Ping, deputy chief of the technology development center for energy conservation under the Minister of Construction. She spoke at the Asia China PU Conference in Shanghai.
PU foam insulation for exterior walls could help China's building industry reach the governments' goal of reducing energy consumption 20 percent by 2010. Li said the goal will be difficult to reach.
``There is a huge gap between reality and goals. We face huge challenges to reach our goals,'' Li said.
One major challenge is the lack of standards and policies in China's construction sector. Many buildings, including residential, commercial and public, are subject to price pressures and fraudulent material procurement.
In an attempt to establish some controls in the industry, the Ministry of Construction began instituting testing, technical standards and professional certificates in the construction industry in 2006. The ministry also specified a preferred insulation material - hard polyurethane foam. To promote the material, the ministry established the Work Group for Promoting the Applications of PU foam in Energy Conservation.
Su Xiangyang, deputy managing director of state-owned building materials supplier Xinyuan Industrial Group, thinks the policies will create huge growth for PU in building materials.
``In the next five years, the demand for various sandwich panels will reach 50 million square meters [538.2 million square feet per year] in China,'' he said.
Su said PU foam's relatively low cost will be welcomed by price-sensitive building contractors, and also meet the government's technical requirements for flame retardants. He said his company is developing energy-saving PU construction products.
``We mainly use a wall decorative plate insulation system,'' meaning that it covers the PU foam insulation with a fireproof plate such as cement or ceramic.
Ministry figures indicate China's new-building construction ranges from 17 billion to 21.5 billion square feet each year.