Reports Forecast Slower Growth for Membrane Markets

The membrane market is expected to continue growing, albeit at a somewhat slower rate than expected ...

The membrane market is expected to continue growing, albeit at a somewhat slower rate than expected, despite the recent economic downturn impacting business around the world, according to recent McIlvaine Company reports examining the cartridge and cross flow membrane markets.

McIlvaine conducts studies of various industry segments and sells reports based on their research. While I haven’t purchased any of the reports, I do find their press releases provide a general idea of the health of specific market segments.

Until a few months ago McIlvaine was projecting a 6 percent growth in cartridge revenue for the world and double-digit growth in China. Because of the recent economic downturn, however, the market for cartridges to purify liquids is now expected to rise by only 1 percent in 2009, growing to $13.4 billion.

The latest forecasts reflect the shrinking manufacturing output and postponement of capital investment. The picture is mixed with some geographical regions and some industrial segments showing revenue shrinkage while others seeing more optimistic growth, McIlvaine reported.

The growing market in Asia will offset slowness in Europe. Each industry sector with the exception of electronics is projected to grow modestly in 2009.

Revenues of major cartridge suppliers reflect the overall market, McIlvaine said. Pall reported sales up 3 percent for its first quarter 2009 (ended Oct. 31, 2008). Millipore reported sales growth of 6 percent for its third quarter 2008. These are two of the leaders in a market which includes thousands of small and only a few large suppliers.

The recession and shrinking capital budgets have also reduced the forecast for the cross flow membrane system market for 2009. The present forecast is for a 3 percent increase from last year to $9.l billion worldwide. Previously, the McIlvaine RO/UF/MF World Markets report had forecast a 9 percent increase to $9.6 billion.

Some of the bigger markets will grow enough to offset substantial reductions in smaller markets. There will be a substantial reduction in the $430 million semiconductor market, but this will be more than offset by a $90 million increase in the drinking water sector. This does not include desalination which adds another $200 million increase. The residential point of entry market will be down in the U.S. due to slumping new home sales. On the other hand, demand in Asia for better water will boost the residential/commercial market.

Water and wastewater infrastructure programs in both the U.S. and China will be accelerated as part of a stimulus package for each of the economies.

According to McIlvaine, sales of RO systems and modules will exceed $4 billion in 2009. Microfiltration sales will be $2.5 billion, whereas sales of ultrafiltration systems and cartridges will be $2.6 billion.

The market is global with large companies such as GE and Siemens taking larger market shares. Desalination remains the largest market followed by municipal drinking water, pharmaceutical manufacturing, residential/commercial buildings, and chemicals.

For more information on the McIlvaine reports, visit

James Laughlin,
Editor/Associate Publisher, WaterWorld magazine

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