There are many types of diisocyanates, the foremost of which are: aromatic diisocyanates including methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and Toluene diisocyanate (TDI); and hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI), methylene dicyclohexyl diisocyanate or hydrogenated MDI (HMDI) and isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI), which are aliphatic isocyanates. Along with polyols, for example, alkoxyether chains, these chemicals form the building blocks of polyurethane.

Polyurethane is effectively derived from the chemical reaction between diisocyanates and polyols; when mixed together they polymerise. Polyurethanes would not exist without diisocyanates and polyols.

Polyurethanes are versatile, modern and safe. They are used in a wide range of applications to create a variety of consumer and industrial products that play a crucial role in making our lives more convenient, comfortable and sustainable.

Whether in rigid or flexible form, in elastomers, binders or coating materials, polyurethane has many uses and applications. Thanks to its versatility and unique properties, the list of applications continues to grow with new, innovative applications coming on to the market all the time.

Polyurethane is a product for the future. It plays a central role in our evolving needs, allowing us to do things that a generation ago would have seemed impossible.

For polyurethane to meet quality standards and products’ technical specifications, pigments and additives may be added to ensure the exact formulation of the product, be it foam, adhesives, elastomers or sealants and coatings. The range of possible densities is endless. As the molecule is adapted to provide different properties, polyurethane foam can display different levels of rigidity or flexibility.

For example, a comfortable sofa requires the use of carbon dioxide as a blowing agent for the production of soft foam. In rigid foams, a gas such as pentane is "trapped" in the foam’s closed cells, optimising its insulation capacity.

In addition, the durability, corrosion resistance and weather resistance of polyurethanes makes them suitable for coating all kinds of surfaces. Polyurethane can also be used to safely bind together vastly different materials, such as wood, rubber, cardboard or glass.

For example, polyurethane adhesives enable the reuse of vehicle tyres in playgrounds, sports tracks or surfaces for sports stadiums after they are collected and shredded. Polyurethane coatings can furthermore protect substrates against corrosion and weathering, significantly increasing their durability and saving resources.

Further applications of diisocyanates include highly durable compact materials like thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and elastomers. Such materials are widely used for a variety of applications including wheels, ski boots and artificial leather.

ISOPA is the European trade association for producers of aromatic diisocyanates and polyols – the main building blocks of polyurethanes. ISOPA is a partner association of the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and the ISOPA members include BASF, BorsodChem, Covestro, Dow, Huntsman and Shell Chemicals.

ALIPA is the European Aliphatic Isocyanates Producers Association. It was created by the major European producers BASF, Covestro, Evonik and Vencorex.

Both associations are based in Brussels (BE) and encourage the safe and proper use of isocyanates and promote the highest level of best practices in the distribution and use of diisocyanates and polyols in Europe and ensures that all stakeholders can easily access accurate and up-to-date information on these substances.


ISOPA member companies 

  • basfnew logo 200x100
  • Covestro full color type black print 4c
  • huntsman
  • Shell P 002 RGB ai
  • borsodchem
  • DOW logo latest

ALIPA member companies

  • evonik logo
  • BASFw wh100db 4c
  • Covestro full color type black print 4c
  • logo grand vencorex

Polyurethanes are used in a wide variety of applications to create all sorts of consumer and industrial products. The value chain is very diverse and ranges from automotive applications, to building, appliances, footwear, adhesives, sealants, etc.