The Online Pump Magazine


Desalination as Growth Engine

By 2007, the annual orders for membrane desalination equipment will reach $1.8 billion. This in turn will drive the total cross flow membrane equipment market worldwide to over $8 billion in 2007.

A number of localities around the world are turning to reverse osmosis (RO) because of contaminated water supply. Wichita Falls, Texas is one of the most recent converts to reverse osmosis. A drought last summer caused the city to tap water with taste problems. The new RO system to be installed next summer will eliminate the taste problem.

California represents a good example of using seawater as the water source. A dozen small desalination plants are now in operation along the California coast. But there is an explosion of activity with twenty plants, including some large ones, now in some phase of development. This activity is driven by the continuing reduction in the operating cost of reverse osmosis systems. Less power and lower operating costs have been achieved due to technology advancements. By contrast, the cost of procurement and treatment of surface water has continued to rise. There, in fact, may come a time when California becomes an exporter and not importer of water.

China represents a big potential market. China ranks low on the list of countries in terms of water resources per capita. One hundred and twenty other countries have higher per capita resources. The water problem is even worse in that the resources are not evenly distributed geographically or monthly. Water withdrawal has increased dramatically in recent years. Under a high growth scenario, demand could increase by over 100 km3/yr. In the 2000-2020 period.

Therefore, desalination will be needed. The poor quality of drinking water is also driving sales of bottled water. This is creating a substantial market for reverse osmosis at bottling plants. China will also be building more coal-fired power plants in the next twenty years than exist today in the U.S. The ultra pure water required for steam production for these plants will create a large market for reverse osmosis systems.

The pharmaceutical industry uses RO, UF, and MF for processing applications. Growth in biotechnology and other pharmaceutical sectors will lead to a $900 million market in 2007 for membrane equipment. The U.S. will remain the leader in this sector. Food will be an equally large market for membrane filtration in 2007. Purification of water used in beverages, purification of juices and wine, and many other applications utilize membrane filtration. Some consolidation is taking place in the industry. General Electric now owns Osmonics.

Several pump companies have acquired membrane companies. USFilter has become a major player in ultrafiltration and microfiltration. Dow Chemical has increased its market share in the sale of membranes. So bigger companies now play a larger role in the industry. For more information on RO,UF,MF: World Markets contact the McIlvaine Company at the link below.

McIlvaine Company