The US spray polyurethane foam (SPF) sector is benefitting from an increasing trend toward more complex building designs, an executive with the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) and Huntsman said on Tuesday.
“SPF is excellent for more complex geometry,” said Monica Karamagi, head of the CPI’s energy efficiency work group and Americas insulation marketing manager with Huntsman. “We’re seeing things like cathedral designs and domes becoming much more common,” she added. Karamagi spoke at the CPI’s 2010 Polyurethanes Technical Conference in Houston. The CPI is a division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The spray PU foams are also unique because they offer both high thermal resistance to exterior temperatures while simultaneously coming with a built-in air barrier to prevent the loss of heating and cooling, Karamagi said. “That’s the novelty of SPF – it does both,” she said. “It’s two in one.” As a result, the spray sector led the way for polyurethanes during the recent recession, she said. While the PU industry as a whole fared better than most other chemical areas, the spray foams were one of the lone businesses to continue registering year-over-year growth. “Anecdotal reports from PU insulation providers suggest the trough that was there from other materials just wasn’t as dramatic for polyurethanes, and in some cases wasn’t there,” Karamagi said. “With SPF, we actually saw growth during the recession.” Moreover, the potential for further growth is significant in 2011 and 2012 if the US construction industry rebounds as many expect, she noted. “That’s why we’re very bullish on PU insulation, and think that there’s a lot of opportunity,” Karamagi said. In housing, August new home construction showed a month-over-month improvement in the US for the first time in months, easing fears of a double-dip recession for the sector. The CPI conference lasts through Wednesday.