March 31, 2004 -- The market for
cross-flow membrane equipment and membranes will grow from $6.3
billion worldwide in 2004 to over $8.4 billion in 2007, a new
report says. Desalination alone will account for over one third of
this growth and revenues in this sector will grow to $1.8 billion
The fastest growing segment of the
market is in membrane bioreactors. Both municipal and industrial
revenues will grow by more than 15 percent per year in this
segment which combines biological treatment and membrane
filtration. These forecasts are contained in the continuously
updated online RO, UF, MF World Markets, published by the
Reverse Osmosis membranes remove
salts but require high pressures and, therefore, considerable
energy consumption. Nevertheless, the high removal efficiency is
needed for desalination and complete elimination of pathogens.
Ultrafiltration is somewhat less
efficient but utilizes far less energy. Growth in this sector has
been associated with the food industry, and more recently in the
purification of drinking water.
Microfiltration is the least
efficient membrane technology but consumes little energy.
Microfiltration has become very popular for use in municipal
drinking water plants. It is used in wastewater treatment in
combination with biological treatment. Compact membrane
bioreactors have capital and performance advantages over
conventional biological treatment systems.
The high growth rates and promising
future of the cross-flow membrane industry have attracted some of
the world's largest companies. GE is prioritizing water as a
growth engine. It is already a major player in cross-flow
membranes due to the acquisition of Osmonics.
ITT has made several recent
acquisitions to position itself in the membrane market. ITT
Industries has recently completed the acquisition of Shanghai
Hengtong Purified Water Development Co. Ltd. and Shanghai Hengtong
Water Treatment Engineering Co. Ltd. (Hengtong), a Shanghai-based
producer of Reverse-Osmosis (RO), membrane, and other water
treatment systems for the power, pharmaceutical, chemical, and
manufacturing markets in China.
The U.S. will remain the largest RO
market through 2007.
Following are projected reverse
osmosis equipment and membrane revenues for 2007, in millions of
United States, 958
Saudi Arabia, 297
South Korea, 192
United Kingdom, 95
However, growth in Saudi Arabia and
China will position these countries closer to the U.S. and among
the top four purchasers in the world. Japan will hold on to second
place as a membrane purchaser. It will also maintain its role as a
leading supplier and exporter of membranes and membrane
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