Regulations, health concerns to aid disinfection demand
Worldwide demand for water disinfection products is projected to exceed $7.5 billion in 2016. Significant changes are occurring around the world for a number of reasons. There is continuing concern about disinfection byproducts (DBPs), many of which are known or suspected carcinogens. Outbreaks of waterborne illness persist even in developed nations as pathogens such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia are resistant to chlorine. Heightened security and antiterrorism measures have led to increased regulatory costs. Finally, standards for water quality and waste-water treatment around the world are tightening -- including pressure to treat wastewater so that it is suitable for reuse or resupply of source waters. The net result of these factors has been a switch away from elemental chlorine in favor of higher value chemicals and advanced treatment technologies.
All disinfection markets worldwide to be impacted
The most notable changes in product mix are occurring in the municipal market. This trend is led by the US, which is making a push to replace chlorine gas. Around the world, municipal water treatment systems are reviewing their disinfection choices and trying to determine the best technology. In developing countries, this includes efforts to expand treated water supplies. Across the board, wastewater disinfection will post above average gains -- as operators improve on treatment techniques in developed areas and expand them in developing regions. The recreational market is dominated by a handful of countries -- namely the US, Brazil, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, South Africa, and Mexico. While chemicals will continue to account for most recreational water treatment, saltwater chlorine generators and ozone equipment are increasing their market presence, as they provide better water quality.
The industrial market will rebound due to accelerating production activity, particularly in the large US market. Generally, industrial users favor high-end chemicals and nonchemical disinfection techniques, but chlorine and other commodities have a significant presence in industrial markets in developing countries. In those areas, rising numbers of users will shift to products that are better suited for industrial processes.
Different regions, different reasons for growth
In the US and Canada, municipal systems are increasingly replacing chlorine with sodium hypochlorite -- either in bulk form, or produced with onsite equipment -- as well as UV and ozone systems due to the regulatory burdens of chlorine use, in addition to health and environmental concerns. Saltwater chlorinators are becoming more common in pool applications. In Western Europe, the shift to equipment is further along than elsewhere in the world, but some areas of the European Union are not fully compliant with treatment standards, particularly in wastewater. In the developing world, expansion of water systems to reach rural areas and other previously unserved populations will be the primary driver of growth -- but even in these areas, use of UV and ozone equipment will increase as cities seek to reduce their reliance on chlorine. There is also growing pressure for wastewater treatment in developing areas, which in some cases is almost nonexistent.