Membrane separation technology produces myriad applications in numerous industries

April 18, 2003

San Jose, Calif. - April 18, 2003 - Moving beyond early applications such as the clarification of wine, membrane separation's strong presence and successful application in the chemical and other industries seem to suggest that this revolutionary technology is here to stay.

"Because of widespread innovative engineering effort, membrane technologies have come a long way since they were first commercialized," says Technical Insights Analyst Miriam Nagel.

In the chemical industry, these technologies are used in various applications, such as removing water from organics using hydrophilic membranes. The membrane-based process of pervaporation is also gaining importance and is commonly used for splitting azeotropes, despite competing technologies such as separation by distillation and extraction.

"Medical applications represent a major market for membranes," says Nagel.

Demand for safe blood supplies, dialysis therapy for end-stage renal disease, and blood processing call for continuous research and development of more sophisticated membrane-based technologies. Genomics, proteomics, drug discovery, and general laboratory applications in life sciences research are also generating demand for membrane filtration technologies.

Next to medical applications, one of the strongest forces driving the growth of this market is the ever-present need for clean water and a pollution-free environment. Water desalination is a fast-growing application for membranes. Ultrapure water is also essential for critical applications in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and life science industries.

Reverse osmosis, a major desalination process, is gaining in importance with the considerable investment in research activities supported by the Middle East Desalination Research Center. In the United States, reverse osmosis is the preferred technology to treat brackish water.

Significantly, the mandating of lower sulfur levels in gasoline by the Kyoto Protocol is giving a great impetus to producing membrane processes that effectively tackle the air pollution problem.

Sustained research efforts have in fact yielded advanced membrane technologies that remove carbon dioxide from flue gas and send it to greenhouses to improve crop yields. Research has also yielded other technologies that remove sulfur from gasoline.

Gas separation applications and the natural gas, oil, and petrochemical industries are other important markets for membrane separation technologies. Next-generation membranes are expected to add to the advantages of membrane separation over traditional, competing technologies such as cryogenic distillation and selective adsorption and absorption processes.

"Membranes have an advantage in that they can be cost-effectively used in some applications where processes such as cryogenic distillation are not practical," concludes Nagel.
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New analysis by Technical Insights, a business unit of Frost & Sullivan (www.Technical-Insights.frost.com), Membrane Separation, provides updates on key developments and trends, presenting the most recent research and technology breakthroughs, and discusses in great detail emerging markets, novel medical applications, and the impact of regulatory issues on membrane markets.

Technical Insights will hold a conference call at 3:00 p.m. (EDT)/ 12:00 p.m. (PDT) on April 24, 2003 to provide a summary and analysis of the latest developments in membrane separation. Those interested in participating in the call should send an email to Julia Paulson at jpaulson@frost.com with the following information for registration:

Full name, Company Name, Title, Contact Tel Number, Contact Fax Number, Email. Upon receipt of the above information, a confirmation/pass code for the live briefing will be emailed to you.

Frost & Sullivan is a global leader in strategic growth consulting. Acquired by Frost & Sullivan, Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and reports. This ongoing growth opportunity analysis of membrane separation technology is covered in Industrial Bioprocessing Alert, a Technical Insights subscription service, and in Water Issues in Manufacturing, a Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights technology report. Technical Insights and Frost & Sullivan also offer custom growth consulting to a variety of national and international companies. Executive summaries and interviews are available to the press.

Membrane Separation
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