Rise in global demand for clean water, global water scarcity owing to continuously increasing population, rising water pollution, and economic development have added to the demand for membrane based water and wastewater treatment technologies.

Membrane Technology

Membrane technologies provide physical barrier which effectively removes viruses, bacteria, solids, and other unnecessary molecules from water. Various types of membranes are used for desalination, disinfection, softening, and organic removal of waste materials from water. Membrane filters can be installed at compact facilities and can be fully automated to completely eliminate the requirement of physical presence of operators.

New treatment systems are adopting membranes majorly due to increasing focus on water purification, recycling of wastewater, and strict environmental regulations. Municipal and industrial applications, majorly desalination plants, have embraced membrane treatment as one of the most reliable technology for water and wastewater treatment.

The benefits of membrane filtration technologies include ease of operation and maintenance, larger life span, compliance with industry standards, and wide range of applications.

Membrane Market

The advancements in technology have significantly reduced the cost of membrane-based systems. It involves lower installation costs, as the requirement of large buildings or land is much lesser. Similarly, operations and maintenance costs have been lowered due to availability of energy efficient membranes removing more impurities.

With growth in low pressure membrane segments, the global membrane wastewater treatment technology market is estimated to reach $12.07 billion at a CAGR of 10.2% globally by 2020. This market is dominated by Asia-Pacific (APAC) and North America (NA). Among the countries, China is the topmost consumer of the membranes globally and is growing at higher CAGR than global average till 2019. China and Australia are the fastest growing markets with high potential in Asia-Pacific as well as globally.

Having strong culture in innovation in both public and private sector Australia and New Zealand will continue to provide sustainable investments toward water and wastewater plants including membrane technologies. Japan and South Korea together accounts for 9% of the global filtration devices market, based on this percentage, market size of Japan and South Korea combined is expected to grow to $640 million at a CAGR 11.9% by 2017.


  • Water Scarcity: Using membrane treatment technologies such as RO, wastewater can be recycled, leading to control in usage of natural water resources
  • Government Regulation: Increase in regulatory standards in recycling of water
  • Operational expenditures (OPEX): Need for reduction in operational expenditures including operations and maintenance costs
  • Customized Membrane Technology: Membrane technology consumers are currently concentrating on customized membrane technologies and therefore product differentiation in membrane market will drive growth of the industry.

Trends & Implications

  • As rising water scarcity and growing population across APAC heightens the demand for reusable water, membrane processes will emerge as favorable solution for water reclamation, driving market toward maturity.
  • The technological advancements in membrane sizes and strengths will be driven with high demand for advanced separation and analysis techniques across research activities in pharmaceuticals, life sciences, and food industry.
  • The demand for technological advancements in the region including total quality enhancements, process advancement, as well as reduction in operation and investment costs would be fulfilled by innovative and adaptive membrane technologies.
  • Due to increasing R&D and advancements in production biopharmaceutical, life sciences, and pharmaceuticals sectors, the membrane technology will witness remarkable growth across emerging economies in APAC such as Vietnam, China, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
  • The leverage on nanotechnology is expected to enhance performance of membranes. New membrane products based on nanotechnology are nothing groundbreaking, but nanotechnology will be a continuous game changer in material sciences of membrane.
  • The inroad of forward osmosis (FO) membranes is gaining momentum. It is already being commissioned in large water treatment plants and it is likely to give reverse osmosis (RO) membranes competitive challenges.

Moving Forward

The estimated market expansion for membrane wastewater treatment technologies is dependent on industrial development and productivity as well as expansion of municipal and wastewater treatment systems. The major trends will include demand from new facilities, upgrade of existing facilities, and increase in wastewater standards across Asia-Pacific, especially in China.

With advancements the technology cost, operating time and energy requirements for membrane technologies will continue to decline. As a result membrane technologies are expected to find applications across municipal and industrial sectors with increasing attention toward wastewater recycling, as well as increase of water reuse across industrial processes.

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