SÃO PAULO — AGC Chemicals, a multinational producer of fluoroproducts including resins and compounds, is introducing fluoropolymer-based products to Brazil this year to try to stimulate demand in solar film, construction and other markets.
The company, which is a unit of Tokyo-based Asahi Glass Co. Ltd., also is considering installing production in Brazil by 2017, once the nation's economy fully recovers, an executive said in an interview at Feiplastic 2015, held May 4-8 in São Paulo.
AGC Chemicals has production in Europe, Asia and the United States.
If Brazil responds well to efforts to develop demand for new products, the company could open a production plant in the state of São Paulo, where AGC Glass already has a facility, said Daniel Hamaoui, business development manager for AGC Chemicals in its São Paulo office.
“Once we find out which lines of products could justify an investment from the company, then we could bring some, or even all, for the production site we have in Guaratinguetá,” he said. “We have space for expansion there.”
The company sees opportunities in civil construction, renewable energy and electronics in Brazil and Latin America.
AGC sees solar cells as a major potential growth area for fluoropolymer film, and is in early talks with international producers interested in starting production of solar photovoltaic panels in Brazil, Hamaoui said.
Brazil has almost no domestic photovoltaic production or installed capacity, but the government is incentivizing solar development. Developers of new power generation projects must use equipment made locally in order to get favorable financing from Brazil's National Development Bank (BNDES).
No international solar panel producer has committed yet to building a plant in Brazil, but many companies are evaluating the possibility, according to solar market sources and Hamaoui.
“This is a technology that is entering Brazil, and by using ETFE film you can have greater portability and reduce the panel's weight,” he said.
High-performance fluoropolymer film can also be used in civil construction as a lighter alternative to glass, with the film weighing as little as a tenth of the weight of similar glass, he said.
The first building in Brazil to use film produced with AGC's ETF resin was Pernambuco Arena, built for two international soccer tournaments, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The film can also be used in agriculture as a replacement for glass in greenhouses.
“The Brazilian architectonic industry is very conservative,” Hamaoui said. “With this film you can develop innovative constructions, but we have to break some paradigms of architecture here, and this demands time.”