Seawater and Brackish Water Desalination

Published - Jan 2008| Analyst - Susan Hanft| Code - MST052A
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Report Highlights

  • The global market for seawater and brackish water desalination plants increased from $1.7 billion in 2005 to $1.9 billion in 2007. It should reach $3.7 billion by 2012, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.7%.
  • There are more than 24,000,000 M3/day of desalination capacity on the global drawing board, slated for construction in the next 5 to 10 years.
  • Water stress and shortage are the primary factors driving the market for desalination technology.


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. Water treatment has become an area of global concern as individuals, communities, industries, countries, and their national institutions strive for ways to keep this essential resource available and suitable for use.

Over the past 25 years, desalination systems have emerged as an effective solution to transform saline, brackish, and contaminated water into a useable and/or potable product. In addition to technical advances in the process, parallel price drops in the processes, especially membrane-based methods, have made desalination affordable for countries previously unable to consider the possibility. This has created a robust and rapidly growing market in which projects and corporate developments are constantly evolving.


This report contains:


  • Descriptions of various desalination methods including multistage flash distillation, multi-effect distillation, vapor compression, reverse osmosis and nanofiltration
  • The current market status of seawater and brackish water desalination plants, trends and forecasts for growth over the next 5 years
  • Discussion of novel desalination methods including freezing, gas hydrate formation, membrane distillation and capacitive deionization
  • Analysis of the seawater and brackish water desalination plants industry on a worldwide basis, both from a market and application perspective
  • Information about major and minor companies working on seawater and brackish water desalination plants.



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 desalination industry.

Information sources for the study also include online research, patent literature, and technical journals. In evaluating the global market, 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.


During the past 7 years, Susan Hanft has authored more than 14 BCC market opportunity reports in the fields of membrane technology and water/wastewater treatment. Hanft also serves as editor of the BCC newsletter, Membrane & Separation Technology News.

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