Polyether Properties, Production, Price, Market and Uses

Polyether is class of organic substances prepared by polymerization of many simple compound molecules monomers and establishing ether links in between them. They appear in a chain-like network of molecules comprising an unusually diverse group of polymers.

What is Polyether?

They are a group of polymers in which every repeating unit contains a carbon-oxygen bond derived from an aldehyde or an epoxide and are primarily used in the manufacturing of plastic foams.

These resins are compounds with more than one ether group and contain also contain ether functional group in their main chain. The term “glycol” is used to denote low to medium range of molar mass polymers & the term “oxide” is used to denote high molar mass polymer with end-groups.

They are majorly used as function initiators and post-chemical modification of function-monomer insertions.

What are their Classifications?

On the basis of type, these materials can be classified as:

  • Natural
  • Synthetic
  • Grafted

On the basis of application, they can be classified as:

  • Rigid Foams
  • Flexible Foams

What are the Properties?

Polyether is colorless or buff mucilaginous liquid, which is commonly used to make foams

They comprise superior lubricity & solvency properties; thus, they are part of many kinds of functional fluids.

These compounds offer flexibility and toughness to polyesters and urethanes when copolymerized with them.

Physical Properties

Property NameProperty Value
Molecular Weight318.372 g/mol
Hydrogen Bond Donor Count0
Hydrogen Bond Acceptor Count3
Rotatable Bond Count5


Polyether Trading Price

Global Trade of Polyether Material

Trade Balance

Trade Balance of Polyether

Polyether trade balance for the year 2016 was US$ 0.12bn. The export of polyether for the year 2016 was US$ 10.97bn, and the import was US$ 10.85bn.

The global trade balance of polymer from last five year is constant excepting 2014. The trade balance in 2015 was negative.

Top 10 Exporters of Polyether

World Top 10 Exporter of Polyether

The United States dominates the export market of the polymer. The United States was the largest exporter of polymer in 2016. It exported the polymer worth of US$ 1615.9mn.

The second largest exporter of the polymer was the Netherlands with an export value of US$ 1457.8mn. The third largest exporter of the material globally was Belgium. It exported the material worth of US$ 938.8mn followed by South Korea worth of US$ 600.7mn

Top 10 Importers of Polyether

China is the world’s largest importer of polyether polymer. It imported polymer worth of US$ 1087.1mn. The major driver for the Chinese market is because of growing demand from end segment markets including automotive, construction and also being used in industrial raw products.

The second largest importer is Germany, and it imported polymer worth of US$ 879.8mn followed by Italy US$ 492.5mn.

Applications & Usage

These polymers find their usage in a number of the end-segment market in different forms owing to their unique properties. These segments include:

  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Furniture & Bedding
  • Refrigeration
  • Industrial
  • Medical Devices
  • Others

They are used in a variety of Industrial products also including elastomers, adhesives, sealants and epoxy flexibilizers.

These glycols are also used as hydraulic fluids and lubricants, as additives in cosmetics, and as binders in ceramic and metallic powders.

Among all kinds of polyglycols or polyethers, polyethylene glycol (PEG) is probably the most versatile glycol. It has its solubility in water, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, benzene, and dichloromethane, but insoluble in diethyl ether and hexane.

PEG is frequently used in combination with glycerin in skin creams, personal lubricants, and in toothpaste as a dispersant and to bind water. It is also used as an anti-foaming agent in food.

Poly (ethylene glycol) has lately is also used as a biomedical polymer due to its bio- and blood compatibility in linear, grafted, and gel form. These forms of resins also have no specific interactions with biological materials.

The most common form of polyether application in End-segment is as Foam

What is Polyether Foam?

Polyether is a flexible open-cell type of foam obtained from polyurethane family of polymers. It is usually non-reticulated and gray in color foam available in varieties. They have a lower tensile strength as compare to polyester but are better in moist or went temperature conditions.

How is Polyether Foam Manufactured?

The foam is manufactured by mixing together chemicals and water. The chemical consist of diisocyanate, polyol, catalysts, and surfactant. The process is that the mixture is mixed and during this, the height of the mixture starts rising. The maximum height is achieved in few minutes. The end mixture contains major parts of polyether triol & tolylene diisocyanate along with water, triethylenediamine, stannous octoate and silicone block copolymer.

  • Soft and flexible
  • Provide ease of production
  • Cost advantage in the production
  • Antibacterial & antistatic
  • Can sustain well in wet conditions.

They find there large scale usage in furniture industry (beds especially) and also in the shoe industry, packaging, construction, automotive, cleaning, white household appliances and in the textile industry.

Polyether foam is also used in applications including heat insulations, sealing, and liquid and even in air filtration appliances due to their flame resistance capability.

Polyester Vs. Polyether

Polyurethanes (PU) comprise two major types – Polyester & Polyether. They are elastomers possessing elastic properties along with exceptional performance properties.

They are different from each other in their performance properties which include:

Abrasion Resistance Properties

Abrasion is of two types of sliding & impingement. Sliding is kind of scrapping and rubbing abrasion whereas impingement refers to particles or any objects hitting the surface of urethane at a high angle.

Polyesters have high resistance towards sliding abrasion that makes it an ideal choice for scraper blades or chute liners whereas polyether offers resistance toward impingement abrasion and make it an ideal choice for sandblasting curtains & bumpers etc.

Heat Resistance Properties

Both the resins depict good performance even at elevated temperatures, however:

Polyesters can withstand high temperatures for a longer time and are more resistant towards heat aging whereas polyether is less tolerant towards dynamic heating.

Low-Temperature Flexibility

Usually, all types of elastomers (rubbers, urethanes, silicones, etc.) get hard and less flexible when the temperature drops down.

As compared to polyesters or any other form of elastomers, polyether are less affected by cold temperatures

Water & Moisture Resistance

As compared to polyester, polyether can be used for products that have to submerged or used in humid conditions as they possess excellent hydrolytic stability.

Cut & Tear Resistance

Urethanes are highly recognized for their toughness properties however, polyesters have higher tensile strength & also cut and tear resistance as compared to polyether.

Oil, Fuel and Solvent Resistance

Polyesters prove to be an ideal choice for products that will come in contact with oils, fuel or any other solvents (even vapor) because as compared to polyether they are more resistant toward attack of these harsh chemicals.

 Hardness Properties

Both the resins have excellent hardness properties. They can be made hard from marshmallow soft to the hardness level of a bowling ball.

Rebound Properties

Polyether provides much higher rebound properties than polyester thus becomes an ideal choice for skate wheels or high-speed rollers (as they need to revert the energy absorbed when foot pushes them into the pavement).

Shock absorption properties

Polyesters prove to be an ideal choice for products to absorb energy they receive (opposite to the rebounding properties).

Thus, polyesters are widely used in vibration dampening applications.


These polymers are used in making lubricants, adhesives, sealant, cosmetics, soaps, and feedstock for urethane production. They emit air toxics at some points of the production process.

The HAP (hazardous air pollutants) released in production process include ethylene oxide (EO), propylene oxide (PO), hexane, toluene and some others.

Some of these pollutants affect human health and environment. It has been made mandatory to reduce emissions of these pollutants by 1,810 Megagrams per year (Mg/yr) (2,000 tons per year (tons/yr)).