News | June 28, 2010

Water Treatment Membranes Overflow Into New Growth Markets

Membranes are seeing a slow rising flood of new applications that will spell 5.9% growth through 2020, says Lux Research.

Already the dominant technology for desalination, membrane-based water treatment is expanding into markets that were once the exclusive domain of chemical, biological, and basic filtration technologies. As the opportunities multiply for new and established membrane technologies, the total market will grow from $1.5B in 2009 to $2.8B in 2020, according to a new report from Lux Research.

Titled "Filtering Out Growth Prospects in the $1.5B Membrane Market," the report projects the volume of water that will be treated by membranes in ten market segments, including desalination, municipal water recycling, industrial process water and wastewater treatment, cooling tower and boiler water treatment – as well as in emerging market segments such as oil and gas extraction. It details market size and growth for the four major categories of membranes – reverse osmosis (RO), nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, and microfiltration.

"Despite the groundswell of growth opportunities beyond RO desalination, entrepreneurs and investors contemplating a leap into the membrane market can expect some challenges ahead," said Reka Sumangali, a Research Associate at Lux Research and the report's lead author. "A lack of differentiation is driving down product prices, while development of more efficient, longer lasting membranes will keep margins low."

Lux Research's report provides strategic insights and analysis on membrane markets, technologies, and applications for those with a vested interest in the membrane market. Among its key observations:

  • RO membranes are the largest technology, but ultrafiltration is set for fast growth. Reaching $1.3B in 2020, RO membranes will continue to be the biggest segment of the market. However, fueled in part by their promise in treating municipal wastewater, industrial process water, and other types of water, ultrafiltration membranes should see a healthy 6.5% compound annual growth rate, expanding from $0.4B in 2009 to nearly $0.7B in 2020.
  • Although market size grows for RO, profits become more elusive. RO membrane prices have been eroded by a lack of differentiation, and undercut by competition from Chinese manufacturers. Providers have fought back by bundling value-added services and chemicals with their membranes, or tapping new technologies to improve membrane performance. But the limited number of solutions has forced most providers to pursue similar paths, and the lack of differentiation – and cost erosion – will persist.
  • Recycled municipal water will boom. In regions of extreme water stress, such as India and China, the idea of municipal water recycling is catching on. The Indian government alone plans to spend several billion dollars over the next five to ten years treating the Ganges River. This expansion in municipal water filtration will drive growth in membranes for ultrafiltration, microfiltration, and low-pressure RO.

"Filtering Out Growth Prospects in the $1.5B Membrane Market" is part of the Lux Water Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Water Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.

About Lux Research
Lux Research provides strategic advice and on-going intelligence for emerging technologies. Leaders in business, finance and government rely on us to help them make informed strategic decisions. Through our unique research approach focused on primary research and our extensive global network, we deliver insight, connections and competitive advantage to our clients. Visit for more information.

SOURCE: Lux Research