Universal need for safe water drives disinfection product demand
Worldwide demand for water disinfection products is projected to grow more than 7% annually through 2014. Growth will be driven by a combination of factors, including recovery from the recent global economic downturn. But across the board, demand for water disinfection products will be boosted by the ubiquitous need for safe, clean water. UV, ozone and other nonchemical technologies are expected to register the fastest advances, although gains for chlorine and other chemicals will be appreciable -- especially in developing areas.
Developed world focuses on environmental impact
Although the need for water is universal, the problems confronted in meeting that need vary widely around the world. In many of the world’s most affluent countries, access to water is rarely an issue. However, even in Western Europe, wastewater treatment rates and standards continue to improve as part of an effort to reuse more water and to minimize the effects of wastewater discharges on the environment.
In other developed countries, traditional disinfection methods themselves have created challenges for water treatment operators. Regulations developed in the US and elsewhere to reduce the threats posed by disinfection byproducts have changed treatment techniques, and created opportunities for products such as chloramines, UV and ozone.
In developing areas, expanding access is priority
In the world’s least developed countries, growth for disinfection products will be tied mainly to ongoing efforts to expand access to safe water and basic sanitation facilities. Numerous countries have dramatically improved access to water (Vietnam, Georgia, Ghana) and sanitation (Angola, Cambodia, Mali). Even so, almost 40 percent of the world’s population lacks access to even the most rudimentary sanitation systems. And up to a billion people are without a nearby supply of safe water. Disinfection products -- including both chemicals and equipment -- will be instrumental in reducing these numbers, and with them, the number of unnecessary deaths caused by waterborne diseases.
Chlorine is king, but new greener technologies will grow rapidly
In terms of the volume of water disinfected in the world, chlorine is still king, and will remain so. Its low cost and unmatched efficacy make it the right choice for high-volume disinfection applications -- especially when a disinfectant residual is needed. Chlorine derivatives are sometimes preferred because they are easier to handle in certain settings, such as in smaller water systems or in swimming pools and spas.
Going forward, though, newer nonchemical technologies are expected to register faster growth, in part because many of these approaches are greener alternatives to products such as chlorine gas or bleach. Ozone offers the favorable attributes of degrading into safe compounds. UV treatment is usually employed in dual disinfection systems that reduce overall chemical usage while still delivering water that is safe and within regulatory compliance. Research also continues on a number of other novel treatment techniques, such as the use of modified titanium dioxide in a photocatalytic disinfection process.
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Global Demand for Water Disinfection Products to Exceed $8 Billion in 2014
World demand for water disinfection products is projected to increase 7.5 percent annually to more than $8 billion in 2014. Gains will be healthy in essentially every region, although the underlying reasons for these increases will vary between the world’s most advanced regions and developing areas. Traditional chemical disinfection technologies will account for a majority of overall demand, but onsite chemical generation and nonchemical disinfection techniques are expected to register faster growth. These and other trends are presented in World Water Disinfection Products, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.
In the developed world, gains will be prompted by efforts to reduce the environmental impact of water disinfection. Traditional disinfection can lead to the formation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. Also, greater emphasis will be placed on more responsible wastewater treatment practices. In developing areas such as the rapidly industrializing economies in Asia and newer members of the European Union (EU) in Eastern Europe, efforts are underway to draw water treatment rates and quality into line with more advanced regional neighbors, such as Japan and the western EU member states, respectively. In the world’s least developed regions, including much of South Asia and most of sub-Saharan Africa, growth for water disinfection products will be based mainly on extension of access to water supplies in areas where no previous access had existed.
Chemicals will continue to account for the majority of overall demand for disinfection products. Chlorine is still the most widely used technology in the world because it is readily available, inexpensive and very effective, although there are concerns about handling the chemical and the DBPs produced by its use. The industrial segment, especially in developed areas, will remain dominated by specialty biocides, including a variety of bromine-based compounds. Disinfection equipment is expected to register faster growth than chemicals through the forecast period. Ultraviolet (UV) technologies are becoming more widely used, beyond their original main niche in wastewater disinfection. Ozone, chemical generation equipment and other niche products are also expected to register strong growth.
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