Korea is a well-established market for polyurethane. Korean polyurethane foam-makers and raw material suppliers operate around the world and have ambitions to become truly global players, Simon Robinson looks at some of the numbers.
In 2012, according to figures from the Korean Polyurethane Society (KPUS), consumption was 720kt, out of a world demand of 17,975 kT/year, about 4% of the global total.
According to figures from PU World Magazine, there are five isocyanate producers in Korea, BASF, with 250kT/year MDI and 160kT/year TDI; Dow 25kT MDI; KPX Fine 150kT TDI; Kuhmo Mitsui 200kT/year MDI and finally OCI 50kT/year TDI. MDI production totals 475kT/year and TDI 360kT/year. PU World estimates that total production of polyether polyols amounts to 591kT/year and polyester polyol production is 50kT/year. In total polyurethane raw materials production amounts to around 1.55m tonne/year, excluding propylene oxide produced by SKC.
Growth in foam for bedding applications peaked between 1985 and 1995 when it grew from 4kT/year to 25kT/year and then fell off to almost 16kT/year according to Polyurethane World numbers. Footwear is the one area of PU use has fallen consistently since 1985, as production has moved to lower cost countries such as China and more recently Vietnam.Between 1985 and 2010, according to figures from Korea’s Polyurethane World…