Ceramic membranes are man-made membranes made up of inorganic materials such as zirconium oxide, alumina, silicon carbide, titania, and certain glassy materials which are used to separate aggressive acids and strong solvents. Ceramic membranes have good thermal stability and hence, they can be used in high-temperature membrane operations. Ceramic membrane can be classified into dense membrane or porous membrane. Dense ceramic membrane is used for gas separation applications such as removing hydrogen gas from mixture, or oxygen gas from air. The porous ceramic membrane made from crystalline and amorphous solids is used in micro or nano filtration procedures.
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The number of applications in the ceramic market is increasing tremendously and it is replacing polymeric membrane rapidly on account of properties such as high mechanical strength, high chemical compatibility, high flux, long operational life, and potentially lower life-cycle cost. Some disadvantages of ceramic membrane as compared to polymeric membrane are high initial cost and heavy weight, which is mostly compensated by the long life of ceramic membrane. Some important operating parameters of ceramic membrane are porosity, crystalline nature, and its ability to recharge once the saturation limit is achieved.
In the water filtration process, the medium to be filtered is allowed to flow through the channels of the membrane carrier. Larger particles are retained on top of the pores if their size is greater than the radius of the pore. The filtrate passes through the membrane pore and it is allowed to go through the subsequent stages of the process. Wastewater purification is the largest application industry of ceramic membranes, which accounted for more than half of the total ceramic membrane market in 2014. Due to the growing demand for potable water, concerns about water scarcity and water desalination processes are expected to rise during the forecast period. Asia Pacific is the largest market for the water and wastewater treatment industry.
Due to the rising demand for clarification juices and beer cans, sterilization of milk, recovery of materials, etc., food & beverages is the fastest growing application segment followed by biotechnology. In terms of technology, the nano filtration segment of the ceramic membranes market is growing at a rapid pace. Extensive research and development activities are being undertaken to use nano filtration technology for the separation of inorganic and natural organic substances in liquid phase membrane separation processes. Ceramic membranes can also convert hard water to soft water and are stable in very high or low pH environments, thus making them suitable for various industries such as biotechnology, water and wastewater treatment, food & beverages, and pharmaceuticals. Asia Pacific is the largest end-user of the nano filtration ceramic membranes technology currently.
The ceramic membranes market in the Asia Pacific region accounts for one third of the total market in terms of value, and is expected to showcase the highest growth rate primarily due to ever-increasing application in all the segments in emerging and developed nations such as Japan, India, and China. The ceramic membrane market in China is growing swiftly. Government initiatives and favorable investment policies to promote industrial growth are the main reasons for the market growth in Japan and India. Continuous growth in the manufacturing sector and rise in industrialization processes has given rise to various technologies such as microfiltration, ultrafiltration, and nano filtration; all of which use ceramic membranes for separation.
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Key market players involved in the manufacturing of ceramic membrane are Jiangsu Jiuwu Hi-Tech Co., Ltd., Metawater Co., Ltd., The Toyo Ink America, LLC, Atech Innovations GmbH, CERAM HYD, QUA Group LLC, Mantec Technical Ceramics, Membrane Specialists LLC, and Kubota Membrane Europe Ltd.