The ability to separate, concentrate and purify certain substances present in fluid media through membranes is a phenomenon that has been known since the 18th century. However, their fundamental development as parting agents on an industrial scale did not occur until around the last decade of the 19th century.
Separation processes with membranes applied to water treatment have recently become vitally important water reuse techniques. It is currently used in many applications, including:
According to a market study carried out by Fortune Business Insights™, illustrated in Figure 1, in 2021, 45.8% of the membranes marketed were for water and wastewater treatment. They are followed in order by the number of membranes used in food industries, those used for gas separation and a small percentage of other applications.
To carry out these separation operations, there are different techniques. These differ fundamentally in the type of membrane used and the working pressure with which the operations are carried out. These conditions essentially depend on the type of water to be treated and the desired final quality. There are four different membrane separation techniques based on the pressure gradient, the species that are retained are illustrated in Figure 2.
Figure 1. Global Membranes Market Share. Source: (Membranes Market Size, Share, Growth | Forecast Report, 2029, n.d.)
Figure 2. Schematic illustration of membrane filtration spectrum. Source: (Lee et al., 2016)
Lee, A., Elam, J. W., & Darling, S. B. (2016). Membrane materials for water purification: Design, development, and application. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 2(1), 17–42. https://doi.org/10.1039/C5EW00159E
Membranes Market Size, Share, Growth | Forecast Report, 2029. (n.d.). Retrieved 1 March 2023, from https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/membranes-market-102982