Demand for membrane materials in the United States is expected to increase 8 percent per year to $4.8 billion in 2014, according to a report by the Freedonia Group. Growth is expected to be driven by the introduction of increasingly strict environmental regulations for water and wastewater streams. Additional gains are predicted to stem from the rising number of industries with interest in process fluids with purity levels that are best reached with membrane separation systems. Membranes are increasingly being used to reduce water use and waste disposal expenditures, and to improve water re-use and material recovery in a variety of industries.

US MEMBRANE MATERIALS DEMAND

(million dollars)

% Annual Growth

Item

2004

2009

2014

2004-

2009

2009-

2014

Membrane Demand

2135

3250

4780

8.8

8.0

Microfiltration

1024

1420

1900

6.8

6.0

Reverse Osmosis

472

760

1180

10.0

9.2

Ultrafiltration

390

645

990

10.6

8.9

Pervaporation

57

99

165

11.7

10.8

Other

192

326

545

11.2

10.8

© 2010 by The Freedonia Group, Inc.


Polymeric membrane materials are predicted to continue to dominate the market because of their relatively low initial costs and applicability to a number of products. Polymer-based membranes are subject to an increasing level of competition from nonpolymeric membranes because of the former’s performance limitations in extreme conditions and a tendency toward biological fouling and clogging. Therefore, demand for nonpolymeric materials, including ceramic, metal and composite types, is expected to record faster growth through 2014, benefiting from better performance in extreme temperatures and greater pH ranges, as well as generally lower maintenance costs.

As the most established and mature segment of the market, microfiltration membranes are projected to continue to account for the largest share of total demand. However, more rapid advances are projected for ultrafiltration and reverse-osmosis membranes, both of which produce higher purity streams. These two segments will also benefit from their ability to highly treat wastewater for re-use and rising interest in brackish water and seawater desalination.

The largest market for membranes is water and wastewater treatment, representing nearly half of sales. Demand is driven by regulations for water and waste streams that increasingly require membrane separation technologies to achieve the mandated results, the rising need for water conservation in many parts of the United States and increasing acceptance of membranes in these markets. These trends particularly affect the municipal and industrial segments. However, the best opportunities for growth will emerge in the chemical processing and pharmaceutical and medical markets, as well as smaller markets, such as fuel cells and environmental treatment and remediation.