MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) is produced in few large-scale plants in Europe, Nord-America and Asia. The companies BASF Polyurethane, BorsodChem / Wanhua, Covestro, DOW and Huntsman are producers of MDI. Several production facilities have encountered technical difficulties in the last months.
According to an article of the expert information agency for the plastics industry “KunststoffWeb”, plants from Nord-America are currently experiencing delivery shortfalls as a result of force majeure. The reason is the flood, which affected the suppliers and led to closure of the cargo terminal due to safety concerns. In succession of the technical faults, supply shortages at MDI production have occurred.
Even though in the meanwhile two of the affected MDI plants (Germany and The Netherlands) have resumed the production, it will take few weeks before the raw material MDI becomes again available in sufficient amount.
There is a strong growth in the global demand for MDI, also due to the good economic situation in the construction sector. Europe consumes about 900,000 tons of MDI per year, making it the world’s largest market, according to Huntsman Polyurethanes. European demand for MDI is growing by about 7 or 8 percent per year.
The manufacture of rigid PU insulating boards, expanding foams, adhesives and paints belongs primarily to the constructional applications of MDI. MDI is in wide use also as binder for production of wood fibre insulating materials (dry-manufacturing process). Hence, this is a general matter, which affects in essence all PU producers in Europe. In Germany, PU insulating materials can be supplied only in limited amounts.
Moreover, Covestro cautions that there will be a global deficit in MDI capacity for a few years because an insufficient number of new plants are being built.
The manufacturers of PU row materials and of PU insulating boards are making every effort to ensure full supplying capacity as soon as possible. They are in close contact with their clients, to keep them up-to-date about the situation.
Information about this matter are also provided here: https://www.icis.com/resources/news/2000/06/12/120911/europe-braces-for-a-potential-mdi-shortage/