The market for cartridges for liquid filtration is rapidly changing primarily due to the increased demand in the residential and commercial sectors, as well as strong growth in biotechnology, electronics, power, desalination, and nanotechnology, according to an ongoing study by the McIlvaine Company (www.mcilvainecompany.com). McIlvaine predicts the market will hit $19 billion by 2010.

The biggest growth is expected for cartridges made of carbon. The biggest use is expected in residential water systems including refrigerators. The second largest segment is nonwovens. Cartridges utilizing synthetic fibers incorporated into non-woven media are used as pre- filters or as final filters. Metal- and string-wound cartridges are predicted to remain a small segment of the market.

The study predicts the third largest segment by 2010 will be membranes. Operators of pharmaceutical and semiconductor plants need ultrapure water and therefore prefer the high efficiency offered by membrane filters. (It should be noted that this segment does not include membrane cross-flow filters, since they are not cartridges.) Membrane filters are widely used in healthcare. Blood filtration is a growing market for these filters.

The market is becoming increasingly global, but also increasingly consolidated, according to McIlvaine. Large companies, such as GE Water & Process Technologies (www.gewater.com), Pentair (www.pentair.com), and ITT (www.itt.com) are pursuing both industrial and residential/commercial sectors. The most recent example of this consolidation is the acquisition of Kinetico, a residential/commercial water treatment company based in the U.S. by Axel Johnson, a Swedish-based company with municipal and industrial focus worldwide.

Because the media is the most important component and because cartridges are disposable, the media suppliers play a major role in the cartridge industry, notes McIlvaine. Media suppliers have been investing heavily in manufacturing facilities in Asia. The report predicts that more than half the filtration media for cartridges will be produced in Asia by 2015. Local Asian companies will capture a significant share of the lower performance media market, but McIlvaine believes the big international manufacturers will dominate the high performance media market.

The market for cartridges in healthcare is expected to continue to grow at more than 7 percent per year worldwide. The biotechnology applications within the bio pharmaceutical industry is expected to contribute to steady growth in this market segment. Food processing is also expected to be a growth segment.