Demand for membranes in the US is expected to increase 7.1 percent per year to $5.4 billion in 2016. Advances will be supported primarily by the continued adoption of environmental regulations that require purity levels that are best achieved with membrane separation technologies. Additionally, ongoing interest in minimizing waste and recycling or reusing input fluids will stimulate gains in membrane demand, especially in the industrial market. Water recycling is also being embraced by many municipalities in water-stressed regions where the cost of obtaining potable water is high. Further contributing to growing membrane demand is the increasing penetration of membranes into the water and wastewater treatment, and food and beverage processing markets.
Microfiltration membranes account for the most established and mature segment of the market and are projected to continue to account for the largest share of total demand. However, demand is expected to grow more quickly for reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration membranes, both of which are capable of removing a wider range of contaminants. Demand for reverse osmosis membranes will benefit from growing interest in treating brackish water and desalinating seawater to create potable water sources, while ultrafiltration membranes are increasingly being used in place of microfiltration membranes for pretreatment purposes. Of the major applications, demand gains are expected to be fastest for pervaporation membranes, albeit from very small base. Pervaporation membranes are increasingly being used to remove volatile organic compounds from wastewater produced by hydraulic fracturing processes. Other markets in which pervaporation membranes are used include the chemical processing, and pharmaceutical and medical markets.
The largest market for membranes is water and wastewater treatment, accounting for nearly half of sales. Demand is driven by regulations for water and waste streams that increasingly require compliance with more stringent allowable contaminant levels, which often necessitate the use of membrane separation technologies in order to achieve the mandated results. Additionally, the growing need for water conservation in many parts of the US will continue to fortify membrane demand, especially in municipal and industrial markets. However, the best opportunities for growth will emerge in the chemical processing, and pharmaceutical and medical markets, as well as smaller markets such as fuel cells and environmental treatment and remediation. Other key markets for membranes include food and beverage processing and industrial gas production.
Polymeric membrane materials will continue to dominate the market because of their relatively low initial costs and their ability to be used in a variety of applications. However, polymer-based membranes are subject to an increasing level of competition from nonpolymeric membranes, which are less likely to foul and can be more easily cleaned. Demand for membranes made from such materials as ceramic and metal is expected to grow more rapidly than demand for polymeric membranes through 2016, albeit from a smaller base.
This Freedonia industry study, “Membrane Separation Technologies”, presents historical demand data (2001, 2006, 2011) plus forecasts for 2016 and 2021 by product, application and market. The study also considers market environment factors, evaluates company market share and profiles 38 competitors in the US industry.
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