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There is a segment of the filtration market that involves capture of substantial quantities of solids. Specifically this segment includes belt filter presses, sand filters, recessed chamber filter presses, drum filters, bag filters, automatic back wash filters and gravity belt filters. The market for these products has grown steadily over the last decade and is predicted to do so over the next five years. In its new online report Liquid Filtration Equipment and Media: World Markets the McIlvaine Company forecasts sales of equipment worldwide will rise from $2.6 billion in 2000 to $3.2 billion. Sales of belts, bags, filter cloths and other media will rise from $893 million to $1.1 billion.
The products included in this group will grow at different rates depending on the industries they serve and the penetration of those industries by the products. For example one of the main applications for bag filters is the pharmaceutical industry. Since the pharmaceutical industry is growing faster than most other filtration applications, bag filter revenues will grow faster as well. Automatic back wash (ABW) filters are mostly used in lower growth markets such as water treatment. However these filters are carving out market share from other filtration devices such as sand filters, cartridges and bag filters. Therefore the growth rate for this segment is higher than the average. Belt filter presses have the lowest growth rate due to competition from centrifuges in the dewatering of sewage sludge. Sand filter sales are positively affected by the concerns over microbes in drinking water. They are negatively affected by the increased use of membranes in water treatment applications.
U.S. Filter is the market leader in the total market but until recently has only been the market leader in the recessed chamber and sand filter segments. However it has been active in acquisitions and licensing agreements. USFilter has acquired Hydrotech AB of Vellinge, Sweden, a manufacturer of drum and disc filtration systems. It also signed an agreement to supply Sernagiotto products including the gravity table, rotary drum thickener and belt filter press.
There are several companies in the $50-100 million/yr filter revenue range including Hayward, Larox, and Andritz. However by and large the market is still populated by relatively small companies. Consolidation is therefore likely. One large filter company recently entered this segment of the market. Clarcor, Inc. has acquired Total Filter Technology, Inc. (TFT), a manufacturer of meltblown, string wound filter cartridges, and liquid filter bags.
Many of the companies supplying filtration media are large. Kimberly Clark, Milliken, and BBA have substantial sales to this market segment but even so it is a small percentage of their total sales.
China is the fastest growing filter purchaser even though the U.S. remains the largest. China is purchasing belt filter presses to dewater sewage sludge as part of an ambitious program to provide secondary treatment to sewage in most cities. It is buying filter presses and bag filters as it expands its chemical industry capacity. Purchases of sand filters and ABW filters are rising along with the growing need for clean water for drinking and industrial use.