Semipermeable, Non-Separating Membranes: New Opportunities

Published - Apr 2000| Analyst - Pat Wier| Code - MST039A
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Report Highlights

  • With an explosion in the past two decades of technological utility and applications in prescriptive and consumer medicine, the drug delivery sector is by far the largest for U.S. semipermeable membrane sales. The 1999 sales of about $3.6 billion, are projected to grow at a 12.5% annual rate to $6.6 billion in 2004.
  • As a market with huge international potential, yet relatively flat domestic dynamics, membranes for disposable diapers are the next largest sector with 1999 sales of about $980 million, rising--closely tied to population growth--at about a 2.5% annual rate to sales of about $1.1 billion in 2004.
  • The smallest segment for semipermeable membrane sales among non-separating uses also has the greatest growth potential. Uses of membranes in artificial organs will track the relatively rapid development of the science in a widening group of applications, giving the sector nearly a 14% annual growth rate, and boosting 1999 sales of $242 million to more than $460 million by 2004.

INTRODUCTION

STUDY GOAL AND OBJECTIVES

This study provides an in-depth analysis of the pertinent technical and economic drivers for the diverse non-separating membrane markets as well as for forecasting growth of the industry sectors. Those aspects are detailed with important statistical and analytical information on markets, applications, industry structure and dynamics, along with technological developments.

REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY

Demand and technology drive an ever-expanding market for semipermeable membranes used for non-separating applications. The field of pharmaceutical delivery is undergoing a revolution, as researchers find a wider circle of applications for trans-dermal patches. From smoking cessation programs with nicotine patches to other time-release drugs for diabetes and estrogen therapy, almost any medication requiring a regular dose is being wrapped in polymer-based membranes for control release into the patient.

Medicine is also expanding membrane use to controlled-release implants for drug delivery, opening the door to treatment of maladies that have long kept those afflicted chained to daily self-medication. At the same time, the use of resorbable polymers to create artificial human skin has transformed the technology and market of severe burn treatment. A no-less dynamic growth area, if less technologically sexy, is the use of polymer membranes in disposable diapers. U.S. diaper manufacturers are leading the development of potentially huge new markets for disposable diapers in Asia and Eastern Europe. Long established and much more mature, the clothing market for fabrics integrating waterproof, yet breathable Gore-Tex, and other versions now that the original patent for ePTFE has expired, continues to expand.

CONTRIBUTION OF THE STUDY AND FOR WHOM

This study aims to provide those interested in investment, acquisition, or expansion in non-separating, semipermeable membranes with specific, detailed information to make informed decisions. In addition, those who simply want to stay abreast of the state of the art will find this study worthwhile.

SCOPE AND FORMAT

Already firmly established as the state of the art for creating waterproof clothing and equipment, the use of non-separating, semipermeable membranes has branched out to a wide range of exciting new applications. The technology has taken over large shares of industry sectors in significant uses such as drug delivery devices, and diapers. Intensive research in the past decade has focused on using the membranes in biological functions -- such as artificial organs with many potentially lucrative applications -- establishing through proven clinical results the technology of the future for replacing natural organs, and assisting with wound care and surgery.

This study analyses the technology and economics for the use of non-separating, semipermeable membranes in the main sectors of growth and potential. Membrane science has grown explosively in the last 25 years to encompass a broad variety of materials and applications, making definition of the market problematic. The term "membrane" has been applied to many applications using polymer/plastics products to protect or enhance the functionality of technology for many uses difficult to define in terms of non-separating, semipermeablibity.

To simplify and focus on the most promising and clearly relevant technologies, the study concentrates its analysis on existing and potentially major uses of the technology -- artificial organs, drug delivery, waterproof clothing, and disposable diapers. The membranes in all these technologies work in tandem with other materials and processes, adding critical functionality and value. To clarify the dynamic, this study addresses the membrane component of each sector in context with the market dynamics of the overall technology. Five-year projections for market activity and value are provided. Industry structure, associations with the membrane industry, pricing trends, R&D, environmental influences, competition with other environmental management technologies, and companies are included in the study.

The report includes comparison of costs for various membrane materials and configurations. The markets are summarized by region, and the types of separation and the players or potential players in this market are summarized. In addition to the more traditional separations applications for inorganic membranes there are some niche specialty applications such as reactors, sensors, shielding, and battery barriers.

METHODOLOGY

Research for this report began with an in-depth analysis of technical and literature, a well as a review of the history of the technology. Interviews with industry experts, company representatives, federal government researchers, and university scientists provided the basis for an assessment of the outlook for non-separating, semipermeable membrane applications. Secondary sources of information included product literature from membrane system suppliers, and numerous scientific references, patent searches, and BCC's Membrane & Separation Technology News, Medical Materials Update, Battery and EV Technology News, and Fuel Cell Technology News.

The study is divided into certain key chapters dealing with the structure and properties of non-separating, semipermeable membranes and other main components of their applications, including critical components, such as chemical raw materials, and manufacturing processes necessary for the final function. The study emphasizes areas under research and the resulting trends.

The report makes projections for each market in terms of constant dollars. Historical values are presented for the given year, with focus on the U.S. Overseas activity is also mentioned, putting the U.S. market into global context. Estimates of the membrane areas installed in particular application areas were obtained, either from surveys done or from estimates of those knowledgeable in the industry.

INFORMATION SOURCES

The information sources for this study include extensive online research, patent literature, worldwide technical journals and magazines, and principals in the industry.

Table of Contents & Pricing

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