Membranes the future for South Africa

Changing weather patterns drive up water prices in South Africa.
Changing weather patterns drive up water prices in South Africa.

According to South African Membrane Market, the market earned revenues of US$37.5 million in 2007 which could more than triple by 2014 to reach US$143.9 million.

This market growth will be a result of stringent effluent discharge policies and water supply pressures, the report suggests. Although membrane technology currently requires high capital and operating expenditure, with improvements in technologies, water membrane treatment costs are anticipated to continue declining, which will drive demand.

"Increasingly industrial end users are using membrane technology to manage their wastewater streams," said Frost & Sullivan programme manager David Winter. "Both the capital and operating costs of membrane plants have decreased significantly in the last two decades."

South Africa's limited sources of surface water and changing weather patterns are driving up water prices, which in turn are making it more vital for industrial water users to find effective ways to treat their wastewater. Industrial companies are also moving towards wastewater recycling, which is driving the demand for membrane technology.

However, cost is still an issue, the report says. "Although there has been a decline in the prices of membrane systems, the end users still complain that the systems are too expensive," Winter suggested. He noted that end users are more likely to adopt membrane technologies when they can see an absolute cost saving in their business operations.