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Posted | Categorised in Manufacturing & Processes.

When people think of the Olympics, polyurethane isn’t usually the first thing which springs to mind! The reality is that polyurethane is set to play a key role in the 2020 games in Tokyo, later on in the year.

As well as being a crucial part of many of the structures which are needed to host the games, specialist polyurethane compounds are also being used to provide safer, better conditions for competition and have even been used in sportswear – in some cases sparking major controversy!

Here we take a look at how polyurethane is being used in the Olympics and why it’s possibly one of the best material choices out there.

Worldwide Olympic Partner and official Chemistry Partner of the Olympic games

Dow, the olympic partner and official chemistry partner of the Olympic games 2020.  Olympic facilities are a combination of new-build amenities and refurbished existing provision.

To make the construction work a success, there is a need for synthetic materials which are capable of enormous versatility as well as an exceptional level of performance. The polyurethane-based products which Dow manufacture are ideal for this purpose, transforming the Tokyo Aquatics Centre; Olympic Stadium; Ariake Gymnastics Centre; and Ariake Arena into buildings which are of an appropriate standard to host a global competition of this calibre.

Polyurethane – ideal for acoustic and thermal insulation

Polyurethane multifaceted nature is one of the qualities that makes it stand out for all the right reasons. Dow is reported to be using polyurethane insulation material around all the doors and windows in the Olympic developments. This choice not only results in better thermal insulation, enhancing the energy-efficiency of the climate control, it also offers excellent acoustic insulation, giving a more comfortable environment for both competitors and spectators.

Running tracks now incorporate polyurethane

As well as being a superb building material, polyurethane is also invaluable as a surfacing material. Dow have already successfully used a polyurethane containing surfacing material, Voramer, for the running track used in London’s 2012 Olympics. Voramer offers stunning performance: a safe surface for the athletes to run on, it’s also a comfortable surface, reducing the risk of injury.

No more polyurethane swimming costumes in 2020!

Polyurethane has also been a victim of its own success! In 2009, several Olympic swimming records were set by athletes wearing a skillfully designed polyurethane one-piece suit. The polyurethane material contained minute gas bubbles, which combined to increase the buoyancy of the swimmer.

This, along with the tiny “hairs” on the fabric that helped to reduce drag, gave competitors a significant speed advantage. Unfortunately, not all of the Olympic swimmers had access to these advanced one-pieces, meaning some were put at a disadvantage. Following pressure from a number of quarters, including Michael Phelps (the best swimmer in the world), who threatened not to compete in any competitions where the polyurethane suits were worn, it was decided that they could not be worn for swimming Olympic events.

Polyurethane contributes to a sustainable Olympics

With the potential to bond recycled materials together into new configurations, as well as significantly broaden the uses to which recycled materials can be put, polyurethane adhesives, bonding agents, coatings and additives make a big impact on sustainability. In addition, the excellent insulating properties of the material means it’s ideal for improving energy efficiency in buildings and similar structures.

The fact that polyurethane products are being used in the olympics as a key structure to success with plumpians sends a clear message that the material is a powerful player in the construction arena. Its superb green credentials, combined with its versatility, results in products that can make a real difference to how the 2020 Olympics performs both in terms of environmental impact and the quality of facilities and equipment.