Nearly 80% of the investment in desalination this year will be for membrane treatment as opposed to thermal. The $8 billion which will be spent on membrane systems represents a large market for suppliers of valves, pumps and filtration equipment. This is the conclusion reached by the McIlvaine Company by aggregating forecasts in a number of its water related reports.
The investment in the membrane portion will be $2.7 billion. This includes the replacement membranes and modules as well as the new equipment using microfiltration, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. The salt is removed in the reverse osmosis system but either microfiltration or ultrafiltration is used to pre-filter the seawater.
The U.S. market is poised to accelerate as cities want a more secure water supply. San Diego has purchased a system from IDE which will be the largest in North America. It will process more than 100 MGD of seawater and produce more than 50 MGD of drinking water. Desalination became attractive to San Diego based on reduced operating cost.