Major Reverse Osmosis System Components for Water Treatment: The Global Market

Published - Sep 2009| Analyst - Susan Hanft| Code - MST049C
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Report Highlights

  • Overall sales of reverse osmosis system components were worth $1.9 billion in 2005, and increased to nearly $2.6 billion in 2009. By 2014, it is projected to increase to nearly $3.7 billion, for a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3%.
  • In the U.S., the municipal market was the largest of the RO systems components segments with an estimated $493 million in value for 2009. That is expected to increase to $675 million by 2014, for a 5-year CAGR of 6.5%. The industrial segment was second with an estimated $338 million in value in 2009.



This comprehensive business opportunity report evaluates the global markets for reverse osmosis (RO) system components. These components include pretreatment cartridges, pumps, pressure vessels/housings, RO membrane modules, and ancillary elements such as skids, valves, and gauges. Existing and potential markets for RO on the global stage are identified. The goals are to provide meaningful information, unbiased analysis, and an assessment of the roles that RO systems can play now and in the future of water treatment technology. Twenty-nine countries’ water needs are evaluated in four global regions.
The heart of an RO system is the membrane module. Though many different polymer types of semipermeable membrane are possible, the commercial market consists primarily of thin-film composite polyamide formed into a spiral-wound configuration. Improved low-pressure membranes, large-diameter membranes, and non-fouling membranes have been important technology trends. Currently, a number of new materials types are in development. 
Pressure vessels/housings are critical elements in the successful operation of RO and nanofiltration (NF), or membrane softening, systems. Fiberglass-reinforced plastic and stainless-steel pressure vessels are the predominant types associated with industrial and municipal RO systems. RO operation tends to fall into three distinct operating pressure ranges. The low-pressure applications are in the 40 psi to 65 psi range. The mid-range operating pressure for brackish water and wastewater is generally about 150 psi to 250 psi. High pressure RO is for seawater desalination and tends to be in the 800 psi to 1,200 psi range. Pressure vessels are designed to last for the lifetime of the system, or about three to four changes of membranes.
Using membrane or depth filter cartridges prior to RO maximizes pure water production and minimizes the costs associated with chemical additives. Cartridges used for RO pretreatment can be depth filters, dead-end membrane microfilters or microfiltration (MF) operated in crossflow. With proper pretreatment, the RO system can meet design specifications, resulting in optimum performance and the lowest overall expenditure.
Although pumps used in RO systems represent a relatively small percentage of total system cost, they must be selected carefully to avoid inefficient operation, downtime, or reduced productivity and return on investment. The choice of a proper pump is especially important in seawater desalination applications because of the corrosive atmosphere and highly demanding process conditions. Positive displacement plunger pumps or centrifugal pumps are most commonly used in RO applications. Booster pumps, a much smaller market, can be used in situations where normal system pressure is low, but needs to be increased.
Numerous ancillary and miscellaneous components are needed to complete the construction of a large, complex RO system. Depending on system size and application, these may include valves, gauges, computer controls, hoses, piping, plugs, racks, skids, holding tanks, manifolds, control panels, conductivity meters, float switches, metering equipment, and tanks for chemicals. What type and how many of these components are used in a particular plant depend on the site and size of the RO system.
For RO consumables, membranes and filters, new as well as replacement sales are considered in this report. As far as possible, adjustments and normalizations for currency evaluations have been made. 
The need for pure water is a problem of global proportions. With each passing year, the quality of the planet’s water measurably deteriorates, presenting challenges for the major users: the municipal, industrial, military, and agriculture/environmental sectors. Water treatment has become an area of global concern as individuals, communities, industries, nations, and their national institutions strive for ways to keep this essential resource available and suitable for use. RO systems have, over the past 30 years, emerged as an effective solution to transform saline, brackish, and contaminated water into a useable and/or potable product. The RO technology sector still has areas of promising activity and a market for replacement and upgraded equipment.
This report is designed to be as comprehensive as possible. It is created to be usable by a broad audience of business, technical, and regulatory practitioners on a global scale. This document is an information source on the industry, a reference manual on an advanced technology and its system components, and a resource that provides information to decision-makers who need to stay abreast of the state of the art.
This report presents analysis and forward-thinking knowledge that will be of advantage to manufacturers, suppliers, and to local, state, and the federal government as well as foreign governments. Engineers, utilities, and corporate planners will benefit in accessing the global components and demands for RO systems.
This study is divided into specific system component chapters dealing with the RO membranes, the pressure vessels/housings, the cartridge filters/prefilters, the pumps, and other ancillary components such as valves, gauges, skids, racks, piping, manifolds, computer controls, and piping needed to complete a functional system. Quantitative evaluations are given for the major market segments, historically and for a 5-year horizon. The global scope of the RO market is identified within four major geographical regions with information on some 29 countries evaluated as to economics, demographics, and water needs.
Costs of consulting, engineering, and real estate are excluded from system costs. NF is considered as a membrane “softening” process or a divalent or trivalent ion-removal technique that is a subset of RO.
The RO market in this study is centered on purified water produced for municipal, industrial, military, and agriculture/environmental markets. It does not address wastewater issues, with the exception of wastewater as an integral part of a reuse and recycle system. 
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used. Research for this report began with a re-analysis of the available technical and business literature, as well as an evaluation of the personal records of the water treatment industry available to the author. Conversations with industry experts and company representatives and a review of their published works provide the backbone for an evaluation of the RO equipment water treatment industry. Other sources of information include product literature from RO equipment suppliers, patent information, and annual reports.
Growth rates of RO system components are not the same for all world regions and are not increasing from the same base. Common to all regions, however, is that sales of RO technology are growing faster than the gross domestic products (GDPs) of countries installing the systems and more rapidly than the industries that use them. Forecasts in this report are based on announced projects and anticipated capacity additions over the next 5 years. 
Sales dollars are as received by membrane manufacturers and converted to U.S. dollars. Equipment costs such as pumps, motors, pressure vessels, and pretreatment are evaluated separately. Post-treatment, civil works, real estate, engineering costs, computer automation, and installation are not included. Costs are adjusted to reflect U.S. dollars. Currency conversions are normalized as well as possible. Much of the historic information is from BCC data.
The information sources for this study include online research, patent literature, technical journals, and interviews with principals in the industry. In evaluating the global market for water treatment using RO, information was obtained from the U.S. Department of Commerce; U.S. Department of State; Aquastat, the United Nation’s global water information system; and publications from the International Desalination Association, European Desalination Association, and the Middle East Desalination Research Center. Projections for each market are made in terms of constant dollars. Historical values are for the year given.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use. 

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Published - Sep-2005| Analyst - Susan Hanft| Code - MST049B

Report Highlights

  • The 2005 global market for RO membranes and system components is estimated at $1.9 billion and is expected to rise at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 10.3% to more than $3 billion in 2010.
  • Through 2010, current and future users are projected to add more than 2.5 billion gallons per day of RO capacity.
  • The U.S. leads the world in expenditures for RO equipment with $848 million in 2005, and will continue to be the largest purchaser.
  • With an estimated market size of $433 million, the Asia-Pacific region currently ranks second and is rising the fastest, at an AAGR of 12.1%.
Published - Jul-2001| Analyst - Anna Welch Crull| Code - MST049A

Report Highlights

  • The total worldwide market for reverse osmosis systems exceeded $1.4 billion in 2000.
  • Growing at an average annual rate (AAGR) of 9.7%, the market is expected to top $2.2 billion in 2005.
  • The U.S. market is the largest, representing 57% of the total. Growing more slowly than other areas in the world, its share will drop to 55% in 2005.
  • Fastest growth is expected in the Asia/Pacific region, at an AAGR of 12%. In 2005, this market will be nearly equal to the number 2 market in Europe.
  • Worldwide in 2000, 13% of all expenditures were for pressure vessels/ housings.


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