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AGC to build new plant for ion-exchange membranes in Japan

| By Mary Bailey

AGC, Inc. (Tokyo) announced that it will construct a new production facility for FORBLUE S-SERIES, a fluorinated ion-exchange membranes suitable for producing green hydrogen at its Kitakyushu Site (Tobata-ku, Kitakyushu City). AGC will invest approximately 15 billion Japanese yen for the new facility, which is scheduled to start operation in June 2026. After further capacity expansion, AGC aims to achieve FORBLUE S-SERIES sales of approximately 30 billion Japanese yen in fiscal 2030. The new plant will be AGC’s first chemical plant to operate in Kitakyushu City in 24 years since the discontinuation of sodium bicarbonate production in 2002. It will be the AGC’s third chemical production site in Japan following the Chiba and Kashima plant.

Green hydrogen, which is produced by water electrolysis process using renewable energy sources, is attracting attention as a next generation clean energy source, and many projects for its production and supply are being planned worldwide. The water electrolyzers currently in practical use today are mainly alkaline systems, which is suitable for power sources with stable load, such as hydroelectric power. Yet they are not suitable for power sources where the load fluctuates easily, such as solar power. Therefore, there is growing interest in the PEM systems that can efficiently utilize these power sources. In addition, fluoropolymers are attracting attention as a material that can extend the usable period of ion-exchange membranes used in PEM systems.
To address the rapidly growing global demand for green hydrogen, AGC has decided to build a new mass production facility for the FORBLU S-SERIES of fluorinated ion-exchange membranes for PEM water electrolyzers, which are made from its proprietary high-performance fluoropolymers. This series features high voltage performance to suppress power consumption and  high gas barrier performance, which is important for operational safety of water electrolyzers. These characteristics are based on the polymer design and membrane formation technologies AGC has cultivated over many years. Pilot sales began in 2017, and the series has been applied by wide range of customers since then.