This study covers the global market for membranes, which are permeable surfaces with pore sizes of less than 10 µm. Only the membrane elements themselves are included in the scope of this study; membrane filtration units and other related equipment are excluded. Conventional particle filtration (i.e., with pore sizes greater than 10 µm) is also excluded.
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Markets include water treatment, wastewater treatment, food and beverage processing, pharmaceutical and medical, chemical processing, commercial and consumer water treatment, and electronics processing.
Products include microfiltration, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, and others such as nanofiltration, direct osmosis, dialysis, electrodialysis, and pervaporation.
Unless otherwise noted, demand is given in million dollars and is evaluated at the manufacturers’ level, which encompasses the sale of a membrane element from the manufacturer to distributors or end users. Additional markups, due to the inclusion of the membrane in a larger system or from related services, are excluded.
Historical data for 2008, 2013, and 2018 and forecasts for 2023 are provided for membrane demand by market and product for six global regions and 18 individual countries.
A permeable layer with pore sizes of 10 µm or less.
Membrane filtration for particles between 0.1 and 10 µm.
10-6 (1/1,000,000) meter; also referred to as “micron”.
Membrane filtration for particles between 1 and 10 nm (1,000 to 10,000 µm).
10-9 (1/1,000,000,000) meter.
Membrane filtration for particles between 0.01 and 0.1 µm.
Membrane filtration for particles smaller than 1 nm (1,000 µm).
Water Issues, Changes in Manufacturing Industries to Drive Gains
Global demand for membranes is expected to rise 6.8% per year to $31.7 billion in 2023. Global gains will be fueled by factors such as increasing concerns about water scarcity, prompting efforts to increase wastewater recycling rates; improving the purity of feed streams in manufacturing processes to boost finished product quality; rising output from key manufacturing industries; and the widening availability of membranes that can function in a range of environments, including extreme pHs and temperatures.
Key Findings in the
Global Membranes Study:
Modernizing Infrastructure, Regulations, and Industrial Processes Support Growth in Emergent Markets
Growth in membrane demand in emergent markets will be supported by expanding water infrastructure, including higher standards for water treatment and expanding access to improved drinking water and sanitation facilities. While membranes will still face competition from lower-cost options such as conventional filtration and water treatment chemicals, stricter regulations about water quality and the greater affordability and increasing durability of membranes will support demand.
Evolving environmental standards and higher expectations from consumers in export markets will also encourage greater use of membranes in industrial processes, as membranes can be used to reduce pollution, improve water reuse rates, and increase finished product quality in industries such as food and beverage processing, pharmaceutical and chemical production, and electronics.
Water Scarcity and Water Conservation Issues Will Be Major Drivers of Growth
With freshwater resources becoming increasingly scarce in many countries, efforts to reduce water withdrawal rates, find alternative water sources, and improve the quality of existing water sources will support demand for membranes. The increasing cost of purchasing new water and disposing of wastewater will continue to encourage many industrial users to treat wastewater for recycling and reuse, which often requires aggressive treatment with membranes. The quality of wastewater being discharged to the environment has also become an increasingly important topic, particularly in countries with historically lax wastewater regulations, in order to improve the quality of rivers, lakes, and other water sources.
Desalination facilities are becoming a more significant source of industrial water and drinking water in countries where existing freshwater resources are increasingly threatened by climate chaos. Improvements in the efficiency of reverse osmosis-based desalination systems make these products a preferred choice over older thermal distillation desalination systems, which typically require more energy and space to operate. The need for pretreatment with less selective membrane types in desalination will also promote demand for microfiltration and other membrane types.
A Diversifying Product Mix Will Keep Membranes Competitive with Conventional Filtration
Rising production of microfiltration and other basic membrane systems in developing countries has increased the price competitiveness of these products relative to conventional filtration systems. The expanding array of membrane systems with varying materials, configurations, and pore sizes will increase sales among users who historically have been priced out of the membrane market, or who may have specific performance requirements.
This Freedonia industry study analyzes the $23.2 billion global membrane market. It presents historical demand data (2008, 2013, and 2018) and forecasts for 2023 by product (microfiltration, ultrafiltration, and reverse osmosis), material (polymeric and nonpolymeric), and market (water treatment, wastewater treatment, food and beverage processing, pharmaceutical and medical, chemical processing, commercial and consumer water treatment, and electronics processing). The study also evaluates company market share and analyzes competitors including Asahi Kasei, Danaher, Merck, SUEZ, 3M, and Toray Industries.