The world market for large-scale, reverse-osmosis filtration systems will increase nearly 50 percent over next four years, according to a report by the McIlvaine Company ( In its online report, RO, UF, and MF World Markets, McIlvaine forecasts that world RO equipment and membrane sales will reach $5.6 billion (USD) in 2012, compared to $3.8 billion in 2008, driven by strong upward trends in semiconductor manufacturing, pharmaceutical processing, and desalination applications. McIlvaine predicts particularly robust regional growth in Asia and the Middle East.

In China, for example, McIlvaine says the need for both potable water and ultra-high-purity water has been increasing in line with industrialization. With ongoing advances in membrane technology, reverse osmosis has become an increasingly cost-effective option for desalination. Based on current data, McIlvaine forecasts world RO sales into desalination markets to reach $3 billion compared to $2 billion in 2008.

In the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries, reverse osmosis is well-established as a critical step in providing ultra-high-purity water for processing, according to McIlvaine. These industries also use reverse osmosis in their wastewater systems for removing contaminants. McIlvaine predicts sales of reverse osmosis systems into these two industries will continue to expand with ongoing increases in production.