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

Effectively polyurethane (PU) is a plastic material (a polymer) that is derived from the chemical reaction between diisocyanates and polyols; when mixed together, they polimerise. Polyurethanes would not exist without diisocyanates and polyols.

Diisocyanates and polyurethanes are key materials contributing to strategic sectors in Europe and playing already a significant role in providing solutions to key current challenges (climate change, mobility, etc.)

Polyurethanes are versatile, modern and safe. They are used in a wide variety of applications to create all sorts of consumer and industrial products that play a crucial role in making our lives more convenient, comfortable and environmentally friendly. Whether in rigid or flexible form or elastomers, binders or coating materials, polyurethane is used in a wide variety of applications. Thanks to its versatility and unique properties, the list of applications is long and getting longer, with new innovative applications regularly coming on to the market all the time. Polyurethane is a product for the future. It plays a crucial role in our evolving needs, allowing us to do things that a generation ago would have seemed impossible.

For polyurethane to live up to quality expectations 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 varieties in density are 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 quite 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 protect substrates against corrosion and weather influence, by that significantly increasing their durability and saving resources.

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

ISOPA is the European trade association for producers of diisocyanates and polyols – the main building blocks of polyurethanes. ISOPA promotes the highest level of best practice 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 is based in Brussels, Belgium, and is an affiliated organisation of the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC). 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 in order to encourage the safe and proper use of aliphatic isocyanates.

ISOPA member companies 

  • BASFw wh100db 4c
  • 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.