Aspects of Polyurethanes
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. Because a variety of diisocyanates and a wide range of polyols can be used to produce polyurethane, a broad spectrum of materials can be produced to meet the needs of specific applications. During World War II, a widespread use of polyurethanes was first seen, when they were used as a replacement for rubber, which at that time was expensive and hard to obtain. During the war, other applications were developed, largely involving coatings of different kinds, from airplane finishes to resistant clothing. Subsequent decades saw many further developments and today we are surrounded by polyurethane applications in every aspect of our everyday lives. While polyurethane is a product that most people are not overly familiar with, as it is generally ""hidden"" behind covers or surfaces made of other materials, it would be hard to imagine life without polyurethanes.