Membrane Separation Technologies
US demand to rise 7% annually through 2018
US demand for membranes is forecast to rise seven percent per year through 2018 to $6.2 billion. Gains will be driven by stricter government regulations that establish higher purity level standards for water and wastewater streams, which will require some treatment facilities to switch to higher quality membrane systems. In addition, rebounding manufacturing and fixed investment activity will spur sales of membranes, as the need for ultrapure water as an input and the greater treatment of fluid streams for reuse is increasingly called for in many manufacturing and industrial processes.
Membrane demand will be further driven by the rising focus among companies and organizations on implementing sustainable practices, including closed-loop systems to recycle wastewater and reclaim inputs from the waste stream. The moderating cost of some membrane systems will also make them more affordable and a viable option for a growing number of potential users. Additionally, value gains are aided by the ongoing development of high performance membranes that are more durable or are less prone to fouling.
Pharmaceutical, medical uses to grow the fastest
Among the primary markets, demand for membranes used in pharmaceutical and medical uses is projected to experience the fastest gains through 2018. Increasing production of pharmaceuticals over that time will drive rising use of membranes both through the installation of new systems and as replacements in existing systems. Rapid growth will also occur for membranes in smaller markets such as environmental applications to treat hazardous waste sites. Stricter environmental regulations demand more thorough processing technologies.
The water and wastewater treatment market will remain by far the largest market for membrane demand. Sales of membranes to the water and wastewater treatment market are expected to increase steadily through 2018 due to the growing use of membranes to produce high purity water needed as an industrial input or to treat low quality water, particularly in areas with stressed water resources but increasing water requirements. The increasing use of membranes to treat wastewater for recycling or reuse will also support sales.
Reverse osmosis membranes to outpace leading microfiltration segment
Microfiltration membranes account for the largest share of membrane demand because they are used for both primary fluid processing and as a pre-treatment step for more thorough types of membranes. Sales of reverse osmosis membranes, which generate the highest purification levels, will post faster gains as they are increasingly used for processing low quality water resources and as key markets such as the pharmaceutical and medical continue to post rapid gains. Demand for ultrafiltration membranes, which can also be used as a primary or pre-treatment step, is expected to expand at a similar rate through 2018, benefiting from their use in the large water and wastewater treatment market and growing opportunities in the food and beverage and pharmaceutical markets. Sales of pervaporation, gas separation, nanofiltration, electrodialysis membranes and other types will grow the fastest through 2018, albeit from a small base, benefiting from the continued development of new applications, particularly in chemical and pharmaceutical processing and industrial gas production.
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