Increased Water Scarcity and Stringent Water Quality Legislation Fuel the Expansion of Membrane-Based Water Treatment Market

PALO ALTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 27, 2004--Lack of familiarity with membrane systems operation and insufficient end-user education is impeding the expansion of advanced water treatment technologies such as membrane-based water processing and treatment systems. Systems providers are overcoming this obstacle by addressing clients' specific needs and providing integrated turn-key solutions to help materialize the growth potential of this market.

Three recently published analyses from Frost & Sullivan (, titled U.S. Desalination Plant Market, U.S. and Canada Membrane Bioreactor Market, and U.S. Advanced Water Treatment Equipment Market reveals that revenue from membrane-based water purification, desalination and waste treatment totaled over $750 million in 2003, and is projected to reach $1.3 billion in 2010.

"Membrane water treatment technologies have often been rejected in the past due to high capital cost and stigma associated with past application failures," says Frost & Sullivan research analyst Renee Chu. "Nevertheless, ongoing innovation in systems design and improvement in operation efficiency has resulted in drastic reduction in both capital and operating cost in the past 5 years. In addition, the market is seeing greater acceptance in membrane technology as a result of membrane's proven reliability and improved end-user's confidence."

As national and perhaps global water shortages become a progressively more pressing issue, people are compelled to seek alternative sources of water supply to meet the mounting domestic and industrial needs. Moreover, increasingly stringent water and wastewater quality requirements on the legislative front also encourage public water utilities as well as industrial dischargers to adopt more sophisticated water treatment technologies to meet compliance requirements.

These factors are highly favorable for membrane-based technologies such as water purification, seawater desalination and membrane bioreactor wastewater treatment as they fit the bill for turning alternative sources into potable water, as well as generating water of high purity standard at both front and back ends of the process.

However, several challenging obstacles are still encountered by membrane product suppliers in today's market. For desalination plants integrators, competitive pricing with fellow reverse osmosis systems suppliers, as well as environmental issues relating to concentrated brine disposal are key challenges among others. Since the membrane bioreactor market relies heavily on other industries, economic downswing invariably results in reduced expenditure on waste stream treatment. Membrane bioreactor therefore faces the brunt of this situation. The same holds true for cash-strapped municipalities that recognize the appeal of membrane water purification, but lack the capital and must settle for conventional treatment technologies at lower costs.

"Intense market competition is forcing membrane manufacturers to reduce prices, this resulted in lower profit margins, which ultimately leads to shrinkage in R&D efforts. Without that future development will inevitably be compromised to some extent," comments Ms. Chu.

Nonetheless, other positive forces including regulatory push, global water shortages and the injection of funding into the public water system through increasing privatization are expected to offset the impact of these obstacles. The overall versatility of membrane technologies and the Environment Protection Agency's (EPA) recognition of membrane processes as a conventional technology will likely provide strong stimulation to this market in the long run.

"Growth opportunities can also arise for the market from new product lines, mergers and acquisitions, the acquiring of market share of other market participants, or by identifying new end users," concludes Ms. Chu.

The following three report services on the U.S. Desalination Plant Market, U.S. and Canada Membrane Bioreactor Market, and U.S. Advanced Water Treatment Equipment Market, are part of the Total Water subscription, and analyze the membrane-based water processing and treatment market and provide strategic insights to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), engineering contractors, and investors to develop and maintain their market share. It also profiles leading market participants and provides a competitive tier analysis. Executive Summaries are available to the press.

Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting company founded in 1961, partners with clients to create value through innovative growth strategies. The foundation of this partnership approach is our Growth Partnership Services platform, whereby we provide industry research, marketing strategies, consulting and training to our clients to help grow their business. A key benefit that Frost & Sullivan brings to its clients is a global perspective on a broad range of industries, markets, technologies, econometrics, and demographics. With a client list that includes Global 1000 companies, emerging companies, as well as the investment community, Frost & Sullivan has evolved into one of the premier growth consulting companies in the world. For more information please visit