Membrane separation, the technology of selective separation in which a membrane acts as a semipermeable barrier and controls the rate of movement of various molecules between two liquids phases, a liquid and a gas phase or two gas phases, is a very diverse and rapidly expanding field of technology.
The rising demand for clean water and numerous government regulations mandating the provision of clean drinking water to masses are the chief factors driving the market for membrane separation across the globe. An increasing shift from chemical water treatment methods to physical ones, mostly due to the apparent environmentally unclean nature of the former, is leading to the rising adoption of membrane separation technologies. The pressing issue of water scarcity in many geographical regions and their use in treating waste water are also significant reasons why membrane separation technologies are in huge demand.
The well established oil and petroleum industries, which employ membrane separation technologies for liquid separation, in gulf countries and certain European countries such as Germany and Italy, are also important demand drivers of membrane technologies.
There are many benefits of membrane separation technology over other cleaning/separation technologies, the chief ones being the lessened use of chemicals, the relatively simple usage of the membrane separation mechanism after proper installation, and effective use of energy across the entire process. The primary applications of membrane separation are seen in processes such as desalination of seawater, processing groundwater, wastewater or surface water for using building systems and industrial processes, and de-mineralizing boiler feed water. A number of processes in the pharmaceutical, food and beverages, and life sciences industries also use membrane separation technology.
European Regional Market and Water Treatment End-use Segment Lead the Market
Membrane separation technologies can be segmented into four major processes: nanofiltration, microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultrafiltration. Of these, the process of microfiltration currently leads the market, accounting for more than 35% of the global market in 2012. Of the key end users in the global membrane separation technology market, the segment of water & wastewater leads the market. It dominated the end-user market with 36% of global market in 2012. The global membrane separation market observed growth from a valuation of US$19.0 bn in 2010 to US$21.2 bn in 2013.
Across the globe, Europe ranks as the largest revenue generator for the global market for membrane separation technologies. Numerous government regulations mandating the shift from chemical separation methods and environment standards such as the Clean Water Act are expected to propel the European membrane separation market further in the coming years. By 2019, this regional market is projected to witness expansion at a 9.60% CAGR and rise to a valuation of US$13.8 billion. Water and wastewater treatment end-use segment of membrane separation technology, currently is the largest revenue generator and is expected to expand at an 11.10% CAGR through 2019.
Key Businesses in the Market
Some of the key businesses operating in the global membrane separation technology market include Nitto Denko Corporation, Dow Chemical Company, 3M Company, Pall Corporation, Evoqua Water Technologies, Merck Millipore, Koch Membrane Systems Inc., Veolia Environment, Degremont SA, and GEA Filtration.