Sales of cross-flow membranes and systems will rise by over $1.2 billion in the next three years, driven particularly by demand for reverse-osmosis equipment, to reach $8.7 billion by 2010, according to a report by the McIlvaine Company (www.mcilvainecompany.com).

McIlvaine says reverse osmosis (RO) is the technology of choice for desalination, computer chip wash water, and water for injection in the pharmaceutical industry. Residential and commercial buildings are also increasingly fitted with point-of-use RO systems for food, beverage and drinking water applications.

Desalination is the single biggest market with cross-flow system and membrane sales rising from $2 billion in 2009 to $2.5 billion in 2012, according to McIlvaine.

Subject Totals: $ Millions

Subject
Micro Equipment
Micro Membranes
RO Equipment
RO Membranes
UF Equipment
UF Membranes
2009
1,486
424
2,642
871
1,599
544

2012
1,645
467
3,214
1,018
1,798
605

Microfiltration and ultrafiltration equipment are competing with the traditional sand filter in drinking water plants. Ultrafiltration is popular in food processing. Ceramic membranes have temperature advantages for higher temperature applications in a variety of industries.

Replacement membranes are a growing market with big companies such as Dow as leaders. The equipment leaders include major corporations such as GE and Siemens. There are also increasing numbers of Asian suppliers to meet the growing demand throughout Asia-Pacific region.

McIlvaine says China is the largest purchaser of the cross-flow membrane equipment. One reason is the large number of coal-fired boilers being constructed. These need ultra-pure water for the boiler steam cycle. RO is typically used to obtain the purity. China is also an arid country. Therefore purification and reuse of water is justified. According to McIlvaine, China has successfully launched a stimulus program, which will boost membrane sales for new municipal drinking water plants, and also membrane bioreactor systems for municipal wastewater treatment.