Berkowski, director, BASF
Urethane Chemicals, observes that since the beginning of
this year, customers have been compelled to use zero ODP (Ozone
Depleting Potential) blowing agents for rigid foams. "We successfully
reformulated our Diphenylmethane Diisocyanate (MDI) to effectively
work with these blowing agents to produce insulating foam, thereby
supporting our customers' efforts to produce more environmentally
friendly appliances without compromising quality."
He sees a tight balance between supply and demand for MDI.
For that reason, he says, "Prices have already risen over the
last 18 months, and we expect this trend to continue into the
foreseeable future because there have been few global capacity
additions and there will be pressure within the industry to increase
margins. Availability of MDI for rigid foams used in appliances
will also be influenced by other high growth applications for
MDI, such as Oriented Strand Board (OSB), a wood used in the
home construction market."
Looking at the U.S. market, a report sponsored by the Alliance
for the Polyurethanes Industry, a business unit of the American
Plastics Council, noted that appliance usage was down slightly,
from 283 million lb in 2000 to 278 million lb in 2002. A breakdown
shows 2002 usages in refrigerators of 154 million lb, 39 million
lb in water heaters, 34 million lb in freezers, 23 million lb in
coolers, and 14 million lb in commercial refrigeration.
Solimide polyimide foams from Degussa,
Inspec Foams Inc. (Plano, TX, U.S.) are thermal-acoustic
insulation that can be used to upgrade insulation materials.
Benefits reportedly include high temperature (to 575¯F),
non-burning (UL 94 V-0 recognized), fiber free, and flexible
and self-supporting properties. Shown are finished Solimide
foam parts with facing materials laminated to one or more surfaces.
For glass fiber insulation, the supply for appliances has remained
strong in 2003, says Randy A. Limmer, market manager for Performance
Materials for Johns-Manville
Corporation (Denver, CO, U.S.). "With modest growth in most
core appliance segments, insulation supply is currently at acceptable
levels. Pricing is very aggressive with continuing pressure to
provide the best products and services at the lowest price.
"The projected supply over the next year is anticipated to
exceed the demand, thus creating additional pricing pressures," he
says. "The key factors affecting pricing are energy and other
miscellaneous raw materials."