By Liz White, editor
Houston, Texas -- One megatrend eclipses all others, and that's urbanisation, the move of populations into cities and out of rural areas, according to Jerry MacCleary, chairman of the CPI steering committee and ceo of Bayer MaterialScience llc in the US.
And he gave a lot of data to support this citing a crucial event a couple of years ago: this was when the tipping point was reached, when, globally we reached the point where "more people live in cities than not," MacCleary said.
And he cited Chongqing --the site where Bayer's polyurethane rivals BASF are planning to build a 400 kilotonnes per annum plant to make MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) -- saying Chongqing is the equivalent of Pittsburgh in its heyday, as the world's fastest growing city.
Chongqing is now bigger than the 15 biggest cities in the US combined, he said and every day 1500 more people join the population. And it is not alone: "there are plenty of others in the developing world," MacCleary said. "China's urbanisation is the largest single mass migration in human history," he noted.
MacCleary was giving a state of the industry address 11 Oct to an assembled audience of some 700 polyurethane experts at the technical conference of the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry, being held in Houston in conjunction with the UTECH North America 2010 exhibition.
The Bayer MaterialScience executive gave lot of data to demonstrate this inexorable move to the cities, which is especially striking in the developing regions, not only in China, but in India, Asia generally, South America and Africa. As a result, by 2050, 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities.
And his thesis was that this means far more ability to control and mitigate a population's effect on the environment. "This is where the brilliant minds in this room come into play," MacCleary commented.
When people live together in large conurbations, rapid transit can be developed more efficiently, apartment buildings, offices and factories can all be built with the best insulation, the most effective waste systems and efficient lighting and heating.
And of course, polyurethane plays a large part in this, keeping the seating of mass transit systems lightweight, cutting vehicle weight to raise fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emission, but most of all in being the most efficient insulator per kilo of material of any available.
"Sustainability and energy efficient technology will be the world of the future, MacCleary concluded. Urbanisation will allow "great economies of scale in carbon footprint reduction."
The meeting runs to 13 Oct, finishing with a two-hour spray foam paneldiscussion on the afternoon of Wed 13 Oct. Meanwhile some 70 suppliersfrom the global PU business are showing their new specialities at theUTECH exhibition in the George R Brown convention centre.