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The market for cross-flow membrane modules and equipment to purify water and other liquids will grow from $7.6 billion in 2006 to more than $10 billion in 2010, according to the McIlvaine Co.’s online report, RO/UF/MF World Markets.
The cross-flow membrane market is divided into three major segments. The largest is reverse osmosis (RO), accounting for 50% of the total sales. This is the most efficient membrane and is used for desalination and the creation of ultrapure water for electronics, power and pharmaceutical applications.
The other 50% of the market is almost evenly split between ultrafiltration and microfiltration. Ultrafiltration provides medium efficiency and is used as pre-filtration for RO, for process applications such as juice purification, and for treatment of drinking water. Microfiltration is the least efficient of the three membrane technologies but also requires the lowest amount of energy. Microfiltration is proving superior to conventional technologies for drinking water purification and for treatment of wastewater.
Combining biological treatment and membrane filtration in one device has proved very cost effective. The growth for membrane bioreactors has been very rapid. Because of the purity of the water discharge, the effluent can be discharged directly. For a new housing development, this eliminates the expense of lengthy sewage transport to a central facility.
In 2009, the leading segment for cross-flow membranes will be desalination with sales of equipment and membranes in excess of $2.2 billion worldwide.
Globalization and consolidation continue with the entry of some of the world’s largest companies. GE and Siemens have become major participants through acquisitions. The recent purchase of Cuno by 3M is another example.
The Asian market will grow at a faster rate than other regions. The lack of clean water and the rapid growth of the electronics and pharmaceutical industries in the region are major drivers. China will be the largest Asian purchaser in 2009, according to the McIlvaine Co.’s forecast.