Polyurethane is a thermoplastic polymer that takes on various forms and may be rigid or flexible. It is used in many products, such as refrigerator and freezer insulation, furniture cushions, mattresses, adhesive, sportswear and shoe soles. Other uses include car parts, coatings, rollers, composite wood panels and building insulation.
Dr. Otto Bayer invented polyurethanes in the 1930s. Polyurethanes were used extensively during World War II as a replacement for rubber and as a coating used for airplane finishes and types of resistant clothing. Polyurethanes are considered affordable and safe. They also reduce energy use by providing efficient insulation. In addition, most polyurethane products are recyclable at the end of their lifetime.