BRIC Country Composite Materials Use Soars

23 April 2010

At the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Conference in Chicago, Chuck Dana, group president of the Owens Corning Composite Solutions Business, delivered a keynote speech about opportunities for fibreglass reinforced plastics in Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC countries).

The conversation is a critical one, given that in just a decade, BRIC demand for composite materials has grown from just a small fraction of the industry to nearly 35 percent of the global composites market.

""These markets represent a tremendous opportunity for the value propositions composite materials deliver and for the composite industry overall,"" said Dana, noting that Owens Corning is well positioned in these markets with 12 plants in these countries alone.

""Additional insights from global industry leaders like Owens Corning are essential to helping our industry to refine our strategies for success in BRIC countries and most powerfully benefit from what is often a voracious and turbulent pace of change,"" said Len Nunnery, SPE Thermoset division chair and vice president of sales and marketing Bulk Molding Compounds, Incorporated. ""Our industry's ability to understand this momentum is key in further harnessing the tremendous organic potential the BRIC countries represent.""

In the next five years, Dana said that what is and will continue to fuel significant growth in these markets is government infrastructure spending on water distribution, power and energy, and other industrial applications. ""In BRIC markets, government spending as a percentage is generally a reverse from what it is in the US,"" said Dana. ""In China, for example, about 60 percent of spending is by the government and 40 percent is consumer. In the US, about 70 percent of spending is consumer and 30 percent is the government. This is a unique opportunity in markets like piping, bridges, roads and infrastructure applications where the durable properties of composite materials deliver on performance. Products such as our boron-free, corrosion resistant Advantex E-CR glass reinforcements play an increasingly important role there as these countries seek more sustainable infrastructure solutions that require less maintenance and replacement.""

While government spending is a key driver, Dana notes that BRIC end use markets for consumer goods are also fairly strong. ""Currently, that demand is more to create consumer goods for export to more developed markets,"" said Dana. ""However, as consumer spending increases in those markets, we'll see increased activity for applications such as housing and pleasure boats.""

As for transportation, Dana noted that the current use of composites is lower, given less aggressive fuel efficiency standards in most BRIC countries. ""That will change, as those standards continue to rise, given the lightweight properties of composites,"" he said. ""A 10-percent reduction in weight can equal a 7-percent improvement in fuel efficiency. We also expect to see a rise in the average use of composites per vehicle rise as efficiency standards rise in the BRIC markets.

""These are exciting times for our industry,"" Dana said. ""The world has never been more in need of the properties of composites. Companies willing to take a focused, thoughtful entry into BRIC countries can benefit from the tremendous opportunity they represent to continue to transform the materials market.""

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