Consumer and industrial demands for clean water will drive the market for cross-flow membrane systems and replacement membranes to more than $11 billion in 2011, up from $8.3 billion in 2007, according to a new online report.
Consumer and industrial demands for clean water will drive
the market for cross-flow membrane systems and replacement membranes to more
than $11 billion in 2011, up from $8.3 billion in 2007, according to a new
report from The McIlvaine Co. In its online report, “RO/UF/MF
World Markets,” the company forecasts large growth.
Forecasts are segmented by membrane type and efficiency.
Reverse osmosis is the most efficient membrane and represents 45 percent of the
total sales; these membranes are required to remove salts and the finest
particles. Ultrafiltration and nanofiltration account for 20 percent of the
market, and provide intermediate efficiency. Microfiltration accounts for 30
percent of the market, and while less efficient than the other membranes, it
nevertheless does remove sub-micron particles.
Microfiltration sales have been rapidly expanding due to the
increasing need for purifying drinking water. The cost of this technology is
not much greater than the multimedia – usually sand – filtration, which has
been the workhorse of municipal water filtration for many decades.
Microfiltration is more efficient than multimedia filtration and has been
proven to capture microorganisms responsible for some outbreaks of illness due
to water quality.
Ethanol plants need high-quality water for the boilers and
other applications. It requires four gallons of treated water for every gallon
of ethanol. However, U.S.
usage now is close to 25 billion gallons per year, and would rise to 120
billion gallons per year, in order to reach the target of ethanol accounting
for 20 percent of the transportation fuels.
The explosive growth in bottled water consumption in
developing countries also is contributing to the growth of membrane sales. In
many countries, the municipal water supply is unreliable. The rapidly growing
middle class is able to afford and has opted for bottled water.
Membrane system sales for desalination will rise above $2.5
billion in 2011. This is the largest application for membranes, and it accounts
for more than 20 percent of the total. The market in the Middle East
is growing at 7 percent per year, with Saudi
Arabia leading the way.
The future growth of the membranes in the desalination
sector will be impacted by technological development. While distillation
approaches are becoming more expensive due to the rising cost of energy,
membrane processes are becoming less expensive, due to membrane and system
developments. The energy to desalinate seawater using membranes has been
substantially reduced, but more developments are on the way.
The industry continues to globalize as regional companies
are purchased by those with worldwide reach. In addition, the largest suppliers
are setting up engineering and manufacturing operations on multiple continents.