If you (or your students or colleagues) need to know what’s happening in the membrane microfiltration market, today’s blog will be helpful.
We created a crash course about this market, including background information, current trends and predictions—to help you, your students or your coworkers gain the insight they need fast—so that you can complete a project, make an informed business decision or provide students with needed information quickly.
What is Membrane Microfiltration?
Let’s talk about the basics. What exactly is membrane microfiltration?
Microfiltration (MF) is a low-pressure separation process, suitable for both gas and liquid separations, utilizing membranes with very open pore structures. MF filters can be made with both organic materials, such as polymer-based membranes, as well as with inorganic materials, such as ceramic or stainless steel.
Typically, MF is a pre-treatment for other separation processes, such as ultrafiltration, and as a post-treatment for granular media filtration.
MF can separate macro-materials and suspended solids, such as metal hydroxides. Typical materials removed include starch, bacteria, molds, yeast, and emulsified oils. While information on pore size is highly variable, in general, the pore size variation depends on the membrane type and the manufacturing process.
MF membranes are used in a variety of applications, including the following:
- Wastewater and process-water treatment
- Food and beverage processing
- Semiconductor and electronics manufacturing
- Pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals production
- Chemical, petrochemical, and other manufacturing industries
What Are the Main Trends in the Membrane Market?
In 2017, the global membrane MF market was worth more than $2.2 billion. By 2023, it is expected to reach $3.7 billion, growing by 9% annually.
Overall, the global membrane MF market is fractionalized and material specific. It’s divided into two profit streams:
Of the two profit streams, by price per volume and replacement, the most profitable area is in biopharmaceutical filtration and labs.
In fact, biotech, bioprocessing and pharmaceutical uses dominate the market, with a 2018 value of $1.3 billion, followed by drinking water at $439.2 million and industrial process water and wastewater at $194.3 million.
Why does the biopharmaceutical segment hold the largest share in the membrane microfiltration market? The following factors drive profits:
- Purity level need
- Increasing global customers
- Constant need to change out filters, meaning that the same material will demand a higher price and will be continuously reordered.
What’s Driving Growth and Slowing in the Membrane Market?
Between now and 2023, the membrane MF market is expected to see a moderate amount of growth, about 9% per year, due to the following factors:
- Governmental regulations, imposed by agencies, including those dedicated to the environment and health, and especially those located in China, which lacks a clean reliable water infrastructure capable of meeting industry demands. In the U.S., most segments of the membrane market are regulation-driven, by EPA, FDA and industry manufacturing codes.
- Industry standards
- Consumer demand
- The need to replace aging and/or outdated existing equipment
- Increased use of industrial water reclamation and recycling
The growth of the membrane market is closely tied to other industries. For example, any company that manufactures products has fluids to process and waste streams to clean for disposal or recycling back to production.
When a manufacturing company increases production, the company creates more water, more wastewater and more recycling opportunities.
Replacement membranes have always been a large source of revenue for membrane producers. Certain key industries, including electronics and biopharmaceuticals, have fluids to filter that are best served by single-use disposable filters.
While the market is growing at a steady rate, there are several factors that may hinder that growth. Barriers to the growth of the membrane MF market include the following:
- Ultrafiltration, another separation process
- The longevity of membrane life (refers to anywhere from one year to 10 years)
- The maturity of the industry
- Industrial filtration. This segment of the membrane market faces tough challenges as it will be the most cost-driven and the most reliant on governmental infrastructure spending and the economy. Additionally, with membrane life expectancies at such high levels, the revenue generated from replacement filters will be far less than revenue from new filters going into new plants.
It is important to note that the challenge for companies to stay competitive can be both an opportunity for market growth or a restraint.
Why is it challenging for companies to stay competitive? Because as the technology to develop and manufacture membranes matures, profit margins tend to decline, and as a result, product lines and offerings have to change.
What’s Happening in the Membrane Market Globally?
Globally, the membrane MF market is led in size by North America, which had a 2018 value of $872.3 million, followed by the Asia-Pacific region at $831.7 and Europe at $585.1. Growth in the North American market will be fairly even, with Canada expecting to grow by 8.3% annually and the United States by 8.2%.
Aside from North America, the major producers and end users of MF membrane products are located in Europe, specifically in Germany, the U.K., France, Italy and Spain. Major users in the Asia-Pacific region are Japan, China, India, South Korea and Australia.
As in North America, water and wastewater treatment and biotech/biopharma are the largest applications for MF membranes in the rest of the world. Additionally, in Asia, semiconductor/electronics manufacturing is a strong market.
Mergers and Acquisitions in the Membrane Market
There is a fair amount of M&A activity happening in the global microfiltration market. What’s driving this activity?
With mature technology and steady costs, profit margins in the industry have slipped, meaning that companies have pursued strategic realignments in the hunt for better bottom lines.
Top recent M&A activity includes the following:
- Acquisition of SAES Purse Gas by Entergris
- Acquisition of Oltromare by Microdyn-Nadir
- Acquisition of GE Water & Process Technologies by SUEZ
- Acquisition of Natrix Separations by Merck
How Can You Learn More About the Membrane Market?
For additional forecasting and intel into the global membrane microfiltration market, download our report, “The Global Market for Membrane Microfiltration.”