The need for clean water will drive the water treatment and flow control markets in the next several decades, with demand for clean water-related products in these sectors reaching $338 billion by 2020, up $200 billion from 2010, according to a report by the McIlvaine Company.

According to McIlvaine, 17 percent of the world”s population presently does not have access to safe drinking water, which figures to drive demand for sand filters, belt presses and centrifuges used in water and sewage treatment, as well as cartridges used in pharmaceutical and biotechnology processing.

McIlvaine predicts the highest growth will be in cross-flow membranes, including reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration and microfiltration, as desalination efforts are employed to offset the scarcity of potable surface water.

Meanwhile, pumps, valves and instrumentation used to support water treatment applications will see increased demand as well.

As countries prosper, the demand for water figures to soar. McIlvaine points out that the prosperous United States, for example, consumes 28 times as much water per person as does Ethiopia and 2.8 times as much as China.

The world population is 6.8 billion. In 2025 it will be 8.1 billion. The growing population decreases the available water per capita. McIlvaine says the estimated the per capita availability of water is, by some estimates, expected to drop 40 percent in developed countries by 2025 compared to 1950. In developing but humid countries, the availability is expected to drop 80 percent. In developing but arid countries, McIlvaine says water availability will drop by more than 85 percent.

McIlvaine says the biggest drivers of demand will be the increased use of water by agriculture and industry. Agriculture is the biggest user (65 percent), while the power industry is the second biggest user. According to McIlvaine, it takes 25,000 gallons of water just to produce 1 megawatt hour of electricity. One pound of steel requires 25 gallons, while one gallon of gasoline requires 10 gallons of water.