Demand for membrane materials is expected to increase 8.2 percent per year to $4.3 billion in 2012, according to a study by The Freedonia Group (www.freedoniagroup.com). The study predicts growth will be driven by ongoing interest in process fluids with higher purity levels in a variety of markets, as well as the introduction of increasingly strict environmental regulations concerning the quality of water and wastewater streams.
Polymeric membrane materials are expected to continue to dominate the market, based on their lower initial costs and greater product flexibility than nonpolymeric materials. Cellulosic membranes, the least expensive materials, accounted for the largest share of polymeric membranes — nearly 60 percent in value terms — in 2007, although that share is slowly declining, according to Freedonia. Demand for nonpolymeric materials, including ceramic, metal and composite types, is expected to record double-digit growth through 2012, due to their better performance in extreme temperatures and greater pH ranges, as well as their generally low maintenance costs.