According to strategic research conducted by Frost & Sullivan
(www.frost.com  ), "U.S. Ultrafiltration, Nanofiltration, and Reverse Osmosis
Membrane Element Markets," revenues for the total market have climbed from
$202 million in 1998 to $215.3 million in 1999. Steady market growth is
anticipated through 2006.
Mergers are redefining the competitive field and forcing participants to
develop new products to separate themselves from the competition. However,
satisfying customer needs will not be cheap.
"With the increasing interest in using membrane filtration comes greater
demands for the capabilities of existing products," said industry analyst
Customers are looking for long-lasting membranes that resist heat, pH and
chemicals, while providing greater purity and allowing for higher product
recovery. Manufacturers must devote sufficient R&D resources to meet these
membranes needs, but the cost of R&D, coupled with the trend toward
declining product prices, will squeeze the budgets of all but the largest
manufacturers. Meanwhile, the high costs of validating membranes for
particular processes will actually work to the advantage of some companies.
Ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis membranes are often used
in highly sensitive applications, such as microelectronics,
biopharmaceuticals, and foods and beverages. End users in these industries
frequently require membrane suppliers to validate their products for a
particular process to ensure quality control.
"Performed on a site-by-site and media-by-media basis, validation can
represent a substantial cost to membrane suppliers and end users," says
Rasmussen. "Consequently, customers tend to stick with a supplier once they
find a product that suits the particular process."
Frost & Sullivan also presented 2000 Market Engineering Awards to companies
that have worked hard to make a positive contribution to the filtration
membrane element industry. The Competitive Strategy Award is presented to
Hydranautics (Nitto Denko). The Market Engineering Leadership Award is given
to Koch Membranes. The Product Line Strategy Award is awarded to Millipore.