Ceramic Industry

Membrane Materials Market on the Rise

May 28, 2010

Demand for membrane materials in the U.S. is expected to increase 8% per year to $4.8 billion in 2014, according to a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc. The 375-page study predicts that growth will be driven by the introduction of increasingly strict environmental regulations for water and wastewater streams. Additional gains will stem from the rising number of industries with interest in process fluids with purity levels that are best reached with membrane separation systems.

Polymeric membrane materials will 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. Thus, 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 U.S. 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.

For more information, call (440) 684-9600, fax (440) 646-0484 or visit www.freedoniagroup.com.