In a keynote speech at the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Thermoset Topical Conference (TOPCON) in Chicago on 7 April, Dana noted that in just a decade, demand for composite materials in Brazil, Russia, China and India (BRIC) has grown from just a small fraction of the industry to nearly 35% of the global composites market (source: IHS Global Insight).

“These markets represent a tremendous opportunity for the value propositions composite materials deliver and for the composite industry overall,” said Dana.

Owens Corning has 12 plants in these countries.

In the next five years, Dana said that growth in these markets will continue to be fuelled by 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,” he said. “In China, for example, about 60% of spending is by the government and 40% is consumer (source: Owens Corning estimates). In the US, about 70% of spending is consumer and 30% 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."

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,” reports 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 notes 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% reduction in weight can equal a 7% improvement in fuel efficiency (source: Scientific American Magazine and Ward’s Automotive Yearbook). 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 concluded. “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.”

Owens Corning (NYSE: OC) is a producer of residential and commercial building materials, glass fibre reinforcements and engineered materials for composite systems.