Growing Opportunities for Membrane Bioreactors

Growing Opportunities for Membrane Bioreactors

By Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence Blog

The Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) Market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.54% to reach US$4.750 billion by 2026, from US$2.676 billion in 2019. Membrane bioreactors combine a membrane process, such as microfiltration or ultrafiltration, with a biological wastewater treatment process, such as activated sludge. It is currently widely utilised in the treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater.

As it is a highly technological solution, it requires professional design and competent workers. Furthermore, it is an expensive but effective treatment option. It is feasible to update outdated wastewater treatment plants using MBR technology.

membrane bioreactor MBR market

Its advantages include the removal of secondary clarifiers and tertiary filtering operations, resulting in a smaller plant footprint. In some cases, the footprint can be lowered even further by eliminating or minimising additional process units like digesters or UV disinfection (depending upon governing regulations), which can be built to extend sludge age and therefore reduce sludge output, has high effluent quality and loading rate capabilities. Its drawbacks include the following: Membranes have high operating and capital costs, membrane complexities and fouling, and high energy costs.

Municipal corporations are progressively utilising MBR, which is propelling the MBR market forward. The increasing need for safe and treated water, as well as effective pathogen removal from wastewater, is driving up the usage of membrane bioreactors in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants. The Kubota Membrane USA business announced in August 2021 the signing of a deal to provide the MBR to 32 MGD Big Creek Water Reclamation Facility owned by Fulton County, GA. The substantial advantages of using membrane bioreactors over traditional activated sludge treatment are boosting the MBR market. Furthermore, Florida Brewery installed a Membrane Bioreactor in May 2021 to remove % of pollutants from its wastewater, thus allowing the company to release the treated water directly to the city sewer rather than transporting it off-site and hence lowering Wastewater Costs.

The MBR market is anticipated to be driven by the rising demand for upgrading existing wastewater treatment facilities that are failing to meet capacity. MBR  is used to accomplish bacterial digestion of waste organic matter and ease of separation of treated effluent from remaining suspended particles. Furthermore, favourable government efforts pertaining to improved wastewater treatment methods are boosting the market growth.

However, the significant financial investments required to install MBR have limited their use in wastewater treatment.

The Growing Concerns Regarding Water and Wastewater Treatment Due to Global Water Scarcity Will Fuel Market Expansion

Due to the shortage of water resources, it is necessary to reuse water once it has been adequately treated, therefore ensuring environmental preservation. According to the UN World Water Development Report 2020, 2.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and 4.2 billion, or 55% of the global population, do not have access to safe sanitation.  Among the wastewater treatment methods available, membranes stand out for their ability to retain particles, salts, and even disinfect water, providing water suitable for reuse in agriculture and other uses.

Increasing Population Growth and Rapid Urbanization Will Drive the Market Growth

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the world population is expected to rise from 7.8 billion in 2020 to 9.9 billion by 2050, according to the 2020 World Population Data Sheet. This level indicates a more than 25% increase over 2020. The 2020 World Data Population Sheet also reported that 40 % of the population in twenty-six nations and territories live in cities with a population of one million or more. South America had the highest percentage of its population (84%) living in cities.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 51.1 % of the global population resided in cities ten years ago. By 2019, the proportion of the urban population has risen to 55.7%. It is usually higher in the developed world (80.5%) than in the developing world (51.1 %). Hence, the rapidly growing global population and expanding urbanisation will drive market expansion, as the wastewater treatment required for industrial and municipal waste will rise, thus accelerating demand for MBRs.

High Initial and Operating Costs Can Restrict Growth

The initial expenses of MBRs are quite substantial, which may limit market growth in the long term. Increased capital equipment investment can improve process robustness (for example, through control techniques) and therefore reduce maintenance and repair costs. In the case of a membrane process, greater fluxes allow for lower capital expenditures due to the proportionally smaller membrane area need. This, however, increases the probability of fouling, necessitating more regular cleaning and increasing process downtime. Furthermore, operational costs are high, which may impede market expansion.

The North American Region Will Be a Prominent Player

Geographically, North America accounts for a significant market share due to strict government regulations for industrial waste disposal.

The Asia-Pacific region will experience a significant CAGR during the forecast period due to an increase in the number of manufacturing facilities, rapid growth in the industrial sector, an increase in the regional population, and supportive government initiatives to promote municipal wastewater treatment facilities in the region.

Annual population growth rates were higher than the global average in Western, Southern, and South-Eastern Asia, as well as Central and Western-Andean South America. Over the last decade, urbanisation has been most evident in emerging countries, particularly in developing Asia and Oceania, where the urbanisation rate has increased from 42.3 % in 2009 to 49.1 % in 2019.

Government efforts such as India's "Housing for All by 2022" and "Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)" for upgrading the housing sector are projected to enhance the penetration of municipal wastewater facilities for the urban population, therefore expanding market size. The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) announced in October 2021, as part of the AMRUT 2.0, that a survey of house water supply and the state of water bodies in 500 cities will be conducted in 2022. AMRUT 2.0 seeks to make all 4,700 towns and cities in the country "water secure". City water balance plans will be developed for each city, encompassing reuse of treated water, rejuvenation of water bodies, and conservation.

Furthermore, the regional use of MBR is being boosted by diminishing freshwater resources due to increased contamination of local water bodies by waste discharge in growing economies.

The Impact of the Outbreak of COVID-19 on the Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) Market

The Covid-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the MBR market. Due to the nationwide lockdown and travel restrictions, many ongoing operations related to sewage and wastewater treatment were temporarily suspended, further hampered market demand for membrane bioreactors. The market, however, is projected to rebound as the restrictions are eased.