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Bayer MaterialScience bullish on PUR in Asia

As with many types of plastics, China is a hotbed for polyurethane (PUR) processing and at the current growth rate of 8% per annum, it will consume more PUR than any other country by 2015. The Chinese government has given particular emphasis to energy conservation in its 11th Five-Year Plan, and PUR-based insulation systems are expected to play a key role in achieving this target. A growing automotive industry is also expected to boost demand, and Bayer MaterialScience (Leverkusen, Germany) is gearing up to serve this market, investing in its largest PUR raw materials production facility on the Mainland at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park (SCIP).

Phase I, an 80,000-tonnes/yr MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) splitter for purification of crude MDI, a PUR precursor, was inaugurated in early September at SCIP at an event attended by MPW. The first MDI shipment occurred in July of this year. A 350,000-tonnes/yr MDI plant will follow in 2008, while a 160,000 TDI (toluene diisocynanate) plant will be completed in 2009.

Furthering its support for the PUR segment, Bayer recently expanded its Polymer Research & Development Centre (PRDC) in Shanghai. The PRDC now features comprehensive laboratory facilities, a pilot plant, and a foaming lab to enable Bayer to customize its polyurethane solutions to fit customers'' needs. Hennecke GmbH, a specialist in PUR processing technology and subsidiary of Bayer, has also opened a service center in Shanghai whose functions include customer training, assembly, and a portion of maintenance and manufacturing.

Regionally, Bayer will set up a systems house on the outskirts of New Delhi, India in early 2007, while a similar facility will be established near Bangkok, Thailand, in the second quarter of 2007.

Bayer pegs global PUR demand at 10.5 million tonnes in 2005 and forecasts annual growth to average 5.5% through 2010, by which time the market will stand at 13.4 million tonnes. The Asia Pacific region excluding Japan is fastest growing. The market there currently stands at around 2.9 million tonnes, but should grow 7.5% per annum to 3.9 million tonnes by 2010. Strong growth is also anticipated in NAFTA (5%).

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