Sept. 13, 2013 -- According to a recent analysis, RO, UF, MF World Market, published by the McIlvaine Company, sales of cross-flow membrane equipment and replacement modules will exceed $10.4 billion in 2014. Further, the reverse osmosis (RO) segment will comprise more than 50 percent of the total.
The results of the analysis for 2014 are:
Micro Equipment: $2,105M
RO Equipment: $3,929M
RO Membranes: $1,139M
UF Equipment: $2,182M
UF Membranes: $656M
Cross-flow membrane filtration differs from full low-filters in that only a portion of the liquid is filtered; the remainder continues across the membrane and is discharged or recycled. The advantage of the cross-flow technique is its ability to resist plugging, and the disadvantage is the loss of product. In the case of desalination, the loss is not significant. However, for juices or pharmaceutical products, there is a need to recycle the lost liquid.
There are four efficiency levels depending on the pore size in the membranes, with RO being the most efficient. Nanofiltration is considered the second most efficient, and nanofilration revenues are included with ultrafiltration, placing next. Finally, microfiltration is the least economical but still compares well with granular media filters and other non-membrane alternatives.
There is presently a $1.3 billion market for replacement RO membranes, with most of the market being desalination of seawater. However, the electronics, pharmaceutical and chemical industry are also major purchasers.
Ultrafiltration is utilized as pre-filtration for RO systems but also by itself for many applications. Accordingly, the food industry is using higher temperature resistant ultrafilters on processes where cooking and similar processes are involved. Microfiltration is also used for pre-filtration with RO systems, and another major use is in municipal drinking water plants, proving more efficient than the granular media filters which have been traditionally used.