Many modern coatings, whether for vehicles and cables, floors and walls, or bridges and roads, contain polyurethanes, which safely and effectively shield exposed surfaces from the elements and various forms of pollution, so that they look better and last longer.
The durability, corrosion resistance and weather resistance of polyurethanes makes them suitable for coating all kinds of surfaces. Applications range from concrete constructions like bridges and motorway structures, to steel railway carriages and wooden furniture.
Polyurethanes are so versatile that they are also available in the form of glues that can safely bind together quite different materials, such as wood, rubber, cardboard or glass.
Construction projects, in particular, take advantage of polyurethane glues. Packaging manufacturers and producers of exterior furniture, both of whom require resilience and strength in their products, also frequently rely on polyurethane adhesives.
Polyurethanes are useful in the production of new applications developed from discarded and recycled materials. For instance, end-of-use vehicle tyres can be made into children's playgrounds, sports tracks or surfaces for sports stadiums thanks to polyurethane's adhesive qualities.
The binding qualities of polyurethane have opened up new opportunities to combine different types of materials. Applications include high-quality boards to make cupboards, work surfaces and kitchen flooring. Similarly, polyurethanes can be used to bind together foam crumbs to produce carpet underlay. Such recycling developments help to preserve the Earth's natural resources. The steel industry uses diisocyanates as the basis for binders to make moulds for casting.
Polyurethane's adhesive properties are also exploited in the manufacture of high-performance composite wood products. Composite wood products made from sustainable forestry resources are a real alternative to panel products produced from large mature trees that have taken years to grow. This practice ensures that more trees are planted than harvested and, by using fast-growing young trees that absorb more carbon dioxide than mature trees, helps to reduce deforestation.