Water Solutions Group Bets on Industry Growth

One of the hottest group of products in the water market is membrane technology.

One of the hottest group of products in the water market is membrane technology. And one of the trends we’ve seen in recent years is a growing interest in the water world by major corporations. In early September those topics combined when Dow Chemical held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of an expanded production facility for its FilmTec Membrane division. At the same time, the company announced its new Water Solutions business unit.

Touring new manufacturing facilities is one of the perks of my job. I’ve always enjoyed seeing how things are made, and the trip to in Edina, MN, to see FilmTec’s new plant was no exception. The production line featured the latest robotic technology and was designed for both speed and quality control. The company expects to more than double production of its RO membranes. As volume increases, the cost of the individual membranes will come down, helping fuel market growth, according to Ian Barbour, General Manager, Dow Water Solutions.

Dow is joining a growing list of large, multi-national corporations focusing on the water industry. While Dow is not a new player in the industry - it has owned FilmTec since the mid ‘80s and also offers a range of ion exchange products - the company’s formation of the Water Solutions unit demonstrates its growing interest in the water industry and its potential for growth.

The company recently expanded its portfolio with three new component technologies: ultrafiltration (UF), electrodeionization (EDI), and membrane bio-reactors (MBR), through the acquisition of the China-based Zhejiang Omex Environmental Engineering Co. in July.

These technologies will be included in the Dow Water Solutions portfolio, along with existing product offerings in reverse osmosis, arsenic removal media and ion exchange. Through development and optimization of these technologies, Dow will offer solutions for specific water purification needs, including seawater desalination, water re-use and small community drinking water systems.

With revenues of approximately $350 million, the new Dow Water Solutions business has over 1000 employees worldwide. The company has committed to provide treatment technologies for both industrial and drinking water applications globally as part of its Sustainability Goals for 2015. Included in those goals are developing solutions for economically viable desalination and lower-cost technologies for the management of municipal water supplies.

As part of its commitment to the water industry, Dow recently formed a partnership with Blue Planet Run Foundation to raise awareness and funds for water purification projects. The partnership includes the company’s sponsorship of the inaugural Blue Plant Run®, a global endurance run around the world to raise awareness and funds for safe drinking water projects.

The 2007 Blue Planet Run will kick-off on June 2, 2007. Starting in New York City, 18 runners will run in a relay format around the world. The run will visit 16 countries, with runners covering more than 12,000 miles in less than 100 days.

The Foundation’s goal is to bring safe drinking water to 200 million people by the year 2027. More info can be found on the group’s website, www.blueplanetrun.org.

Bit of trivia: Dow may be a “chemical” company, but it has a major focus on plastics. It supplies a lot of the resins used for plastic pipe, including HDPE pipe used in the water industry. It also provides chemicals for water treatment, such as caustic soda and chlorine, but those products are not included in its Water Solutions business. Apparently they have different channels to market.

James Laughlin, Editor

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