"Polyurethanes are formed by reacting
a polyol (an alcohol with more than two reactive hydroxyl groups per molecule)
with a diisocyanate or a polymeric isocyanate in the presence of suitable
catalysts and additives." - Alliance of The Polyurethane Industry
Polyurethanes are best known to the
public in the form of flexible foams: upholstery, mattresses, earplugs,
chemical-resistant coatings, specialty adhesives and sealants, and packaging.
It also comes to the rigid forms of insulation for buildings, water heaters,
refrigerated transport, and commercial and residential refrigeration.
Otto Bayer and co-workers discovered
and patented the chemistry of polyurethanes in 1937.
1937 Otto Bayer (1902 - 1982) develops
the novel polyisocyanate-polyaddition process. The basic idea which he
documents from March 26 1937 relates to spinnable products made of hexane-1,6-diisocyanate
(HDI) and hexa-1,6-diamine (HDA). Publication of German Patent DRP 728981
on November 13 1937: "A process for the production of polyurethanes and
polyureas". The team of inventors consisted of: Otto Bayer, Werner Siefken,
Heinrich Rinke, L... Orthner and H... Schild.
1938 Octamethylene diisocyanate and butanediol-1,4
are the units of a polymer produced by Heinrich Rinke. He calls this area
of polymers "polyurethanes", a name which was soon to become known worldwide
for an extremely versatile class of materials.
Right from the start, trade names
were given to polyurethane products. Igamid® for plastics materials,
Perlon® for fibers.
Holmes William Edward Hanford and Donald
Fletcher Holmes invented a process for making the multipurpose material