Significant percentages of Middle East oil revenues will be invested in infrastructure including desalination using reverse osmosis. These investments will help boost worldwide revenues of cross-flow membrane systems to over $10 billion in 2010. Half of that total will be for reverse osmosis systems and the other half split between ultrafiltration and microfiltration. This is the latest forecast in the online McIlvaine report, RO/UF/MF World Markets.
Desalination will account for 20% of the revenues, whereas pharmaceutical and biotechnology applications will account for 10%. The food industry, which purifies the water it uses and also uses membranes to separate liquids in processes, will account for 14% of the purchases.
The amount of available renewable water per capita in countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa region is 20% of what it is in the rest of the world, with 80% falling below the international water scarcity threshold of 1,000 cu meters per person per annum.
Water coverage is also limited, with the potable water network reaching an average of 75% of the population in these countries. Conventional water availability has remained static while demand continues to increase sharply due to rapid population growth, increase in household income and irrigation development.
At the same time, many of the Middle East countries have the highest consumption rates per capita in the world. For example, in the UAE consumption per person (around 570 liters per person a day) is over three times the world average. By 2025, regional average water availability will be just over 500 cu meters per person per year, compared to the world average of 7,000.
With rising incomes and standards of living, there is a substantial expansion of infrastructure. The availability of saltwater and the cost effectiveness of membrane desalination is resulting in large numbers of projects.
A number of factors will contribute to double-digit growth for cross-flow membranes. They include migration of rural residents to cities in Asia, expansion of biotechnology from pilot to commercial scale, acceleration in coal-fired power plant investments and applications in nanotechnology.