By David Reed, UT EditorCleveland, Ohio-Despite competition from other materials and product downsizing, polyurethanes will continue to dominate the speciality foams business through to 2009, according to a recent report. And growth in the coming years is likely to be ahead of that in the recent past, says the 201-page Specialty foams report, published in August by The Freedonia Group, Inc.Total demand for speciality foams is expected to grow at 5.5 percent a year through to 2009, when they will command a value of over $1300 million, the report says (see Table at end of this report). This growth rate is ahead of the 5.2 percent per year rate in the 1999-2004 period, Freedonia emphasises.Specialty polyurethane foam demand is projected to rise slightly ahead of this average, at 5.6 percent annually through 2009, based on opportunities in areas such as air and liquid filtration, gaskets, structural reinforcement, fire protection and acoustical insulation, the report says. PU foams will account for about one third of the value, exactly in line with its share of the $787-million market in 1999 and the $1013-million in 2004, the Cleveland, Ohio-based consultancy group adds.Key markets for the materials include the manufacture of business and medical equipment, and wire and cable products, as well as gaskets, seals and filters for industrial machinery, and thermal insulation for storage tanks and other vessels.Particularly good growth is expected for hydrophilic (water-absorbing) foam in areas such as wound dressings, and as delivery vehicles for inks and antimicrobials, Freedonia adds.The Specialty foams report costs $4100 from The Freedonia Group, Inc., 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, OH 44143-2326. For further details, please contact Corinne Gangloff by phone at +1 440.684.9600; Fax: +1 440.646.0484; E-mail: [email protected] foam demand (million dollars)Annual growth, %Item____________________1999___2004___2009___04/99___09/04Specialty foam demand____787___1013___1325______5.2____5.5 Plastic foam______________700____895___1152______5.0____5.2Polyurethane_____________260____336____442_______5.3___5.6Engineered plastic________189____237____295_______4.6___4.5Other plastic_____________251____322____415_______5.1____5.2Non-plastics foam_________87____118____173_______6.3____8.1The Freedonia Group, Inc."