The two common types of membrane bioreactor systems are gravity-driven or vacuum and pressure-driven systems. Gravity-driven or vacuum bioreactors are immersed and usually use a flat sheet or hollow fiber membranes installed in the bioreactor or subsequent membrane tank. Pressure-driven systems are in-pipe cartridge systems situated on the exterior of the bioreactor. An MBR is generally 30%-50% smaller than an equivalent traditional active sludge facility with secondary clarifiers and media tertiary filtration. The procedure also generates excellent effluent quality and is proficient in meeting strict water quality obligations. This modular schematic enables easy development and configuration flexibility, a robust and reliable operation, and lessened downstream disinfection needs.
The limited availability of clean water, one of the most crucial global challenges, presents a significant threat to economic growth, ecosystem health, and water security. The challenge of supplying sufficient and safe drinking water is further complicated due to climate change and the pressure of industrialization and economic development. The industrial and public sectors consume significant freshwater while generating vast amounts of wastewater. If improperly treated, wastewater emission into the aquatic environment causes pollution, affecting public health and marine ecosystems.
Furthermore, due to the increasing demand for water recycling and wastewater recovery have become popular trends. Wastewater reuse reduces the volume and environmental threat of released wastewater and lowers the pressure on freshwater sources. A membrane bioreactor is a wastewater management technology that reduces wastewater emission and increases water usage efficiency, thus achieving a balance between preserving aquatic environments and exploiting freshwater resources. Therefore, using membrane bioreactors for wastewater treatment to overcome the limited availability of water is driving the market's growth.
Implementing stringent regulations in industries and power plants regarding emissions in water bodies is one of the key factors driving the growth of the membrane bioreactors market. The industrial sector mainly uses membrane bioreactors as it is the highest generator of water pollutants. The emissions include arsenic, salt, nitrate, mercury, selenium, lead, and other toxic elements. Membrane bioreactor wastewater treatment systems treat wastewater and generate refined water, which is further reused by industries such as food and beverages. This, in turn, has resulted in the increased adoption of these technologies. Several mandates and environmental regulations have further driven the market growth. For instance, in October 2017, the environment industry modified standards for four parameters that ascertain water quality in India. The parameters included biochemical oxygen demand, pH value, total suspended solids, and fecal coliform.
Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) systems usually have higher capital and operating costs than conventional systems because they use sand filters and secondary clarifiers. Operation and maintenance costs involve fouling control, membrane cleaning, and eventual membrane replacement. Air sourcing to control bacterial growth on membranes also increases energy costs. The waste sludge from such a system may have a low settling rate, causing chemicals to generate biosolids suitable for disposal. Also, waste sludges from membrane bioreactors can be treated using standard technologies for activated sludge processes.
Further, membrane bioreactor systems have higher capital costs than conventional systems with comparable throughput due to the initial costs of the membranes. Systems operating costs are also higher for membrane bioreactors due to the higher energy costs associated with sourcing to reduce membrane fouling. Thus, the high capital and operating expenses hinder the market's growth.
More than 50% of the global population lives in urban areas, generating over 80% of the global domestic product (GDP). With the rapid development of the economy and the acceleration of urbanization and industrialization, the concern about water quality has increased. In addition, the rising population in cities has a substantial impact on water quality. Moreover, the growing number of industries that release emissions is also anticipated to generate high demand for membrane bioreactors for water treatment. Thus, the market for membrane bioreactors is expected to grow with increasing urbanization and consumer awareness.
Growing urbanization affects the environment by diminishing the availability of resources due to population growth. It causes health complications due to pollution and congested living conditions. Water quality in urban areas is also low due to factory waste. Therefore, clean water has become a critical objective in urban areas, boosting the demand for membrane bioreactors. With increasing awareness of the harmful effects of contaminated water, the need for membrane bioreactor water treatment systems is expected to rise, creating lucrative market growth opportunities.
The global membrane bioreactors market is bifurcated into membrane type, system configuration, application, and system type.
Based on the membrane type, the global membrane bioreactors market is bifurcated into the hollow fiber, flat sheet, and multi-tubular.
The hollow fiber segment dominates the global market and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.49% over the forecast period. Hollow fiber is estimated to be the most swiftly developing segment during the forecast period. Hollow fiber (HF) configurations comprise one of the three significant configurations for membrane bioreactor technology. Hollow fiber membranes are almost always vertically oriented, with the aerators fitted to the frame or integrated with the membrane module. In addition, the fibers generally contain slack to enable them to move laterally in the flow of air bubbles to airlift the sludge across the fiber bundle. A hollow fiber membrane bioreactor comprises hollow fiber membranes parallelly built in an external shell, typically in the shape of a cylinder. The fibers are potted in the shell, forming a medium and a cell compartment separated by the membranes.
Based on system configuration, the global membrane bioreactors market is divided into the submerged membrane and side stream.
The submerged membrane segment is the most significant contributor to the market and is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 7.92% over the forecast period. Submerged membrane bioreactors are membrane bioreactors where two processes, the separation and the chemical reaction, co-occur to produce a synergistic effect. The submerged membrane bioreactor is a promising technology for water reclamation and wastewater treatment. This technology is mainly used for wastewater treatment for lower sludge production and better effluent quality than conventional activated sludge processes. The submerged technology is established in several applications and is generally preferred owing to its simple setup, lower energy consumption, and high membrane packing density.
Based on application, the global membrane bioreactors market is bifurcated into municipal and industrial.
The municipal wastewater segment owns the highest market share and is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 7.06% over the forecast period. The municipal wastewater treatment segment is estimated to witness the highest growth during the forecast period. Globally, population growth has increased the demand for treated water. The scarcity of water resources has increased the demand for water recycling and water treatment services. Most of the wastewater treatment capacity offered by membrane bioreactors is for municipal wastewater treatment, as the overall flow of sewage is more significant than that of industrial effluent. Municipal wastewater is usually treated to fulfill the statutory requirements for discharge into environmental waters. In order of importance, the significant contaminants requiring removal from municipal wastewater include suspended solids, organic matter, ammonia, nitrates, phosphate, pathogenic bacteria, and micropollutants.
Based on system type, the global membrane bioreactors market is bifurcated into gravity-based and pressure-driven.
The gravity-based segment dominates the global market and is projected to exhibit a CAGR of 7.73% during the forecast period. Gravity-based systems are immersed and usually utilize flat sheet or hollow fiber membranes equipped in bioreactors or subsequent membrane tanks. Gravity-driven membrane (GDM) filtration is among the most favorable membrane bioreactor configurations. It runs at an ultra-low pressure by gravity, needing minimum energy. It can treat different types of water, including diluted wastewater and surface water, with varying contaminant levels. It primarily reveals attractive potential in water reuse or seawater pre-treatment. The system is run under ultra-low pressure (40-60 mbar) with minimum maintenance compared to traditional membrane filtration systems such as ultrafiltration. The feasibility of gravity-driven membrane filtration has been proved with lower energy use and stringent regulations in wastewater treatment. Therefore, as an energy-saving method, the gravity-driven membrane can play a vital role in household tap water and advanced wastewater treatment.
Based on region, the global membrane bioreactors market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.
Asia-Pacific is the most significant global membrane bioreactors market shareholder and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.42% over the forecast period. The membrane bioreactors market in Asia-Pacific is witnessing strong growth. The Asia-Pacific membrane bioreactors market is primarily driven by rapid urbanization and industrialization across countries such as China, India, and Japan, increasing the demand for clean water and effective wastewater treatment. Growing investments by the public sector in developing existing water and wastewater treatment systems with membrane bioreactor technology are also boosting market growth. In addition, growing environmental concerns and the restricted availability of safe drinking water have increased the use of membrane bioreactors across the region. Due to the increasing adoption of technically advanced products in the region, Asia-Pacific is expected to witness exponential growth in the membrane reactors market during the forecast period. Furthermore, numerous initiatives started by governmental bodies, such as establishing environmental protection laws to preserve natural water resources and providing proper sanitation, are indeed impacting the market growth. These factors, in turn, are expected to fuel the market's strong growth during the forecast period.
North America is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 6.43% over the forecast period. North America is a significant market for membrane bioreactors across the globe. Though the municipal wastewater treatment market is the primary demand generator, alternative industrial wastewater treatment applications also have robust growth opportunities. These opportunities are in verticals such as oil and gas, food and beverage, mining, etc. Also, the growth of the membrane bioreactors market in North America is supported by rising investments in R&D for enhanced technologies and increasing demand for water treatment systems in the region. Furthermore, planned industrial projects witnessed a slump due to the economic slowdown and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, with the growth in industrial activities, the membrane bioreactors market is expected to witness increased demand during the forecast period. The industrial sector in North America is expected to recover and regain its market position globally. Therefore, with increased product sales across the region, the demand for membrane bioreactors is anticipated to be high during the forecast period.
Europe is estimated to witness a sharp rise in drilling operations and oil and gas exploration activities, establishing white development spaces for market players. Strict regulations related to effluent water treatment and disposal will drive the demand for membrane bioreactors. Water produced in the oil and gas industry generally comprises hydrocarbon formulations and a few other harmful chemical traits. In addition, water treatment systems specially designed for released water help maintain the quality of treated water before its reuse or discharge.
The Latin America membrane bioreactor (MBR) market is witnessing strong growth. The market is driven mainly by the increasing awareness of preserving water quality and maintaining natural water resources. Also, growing investments in several development plans across Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina are increasing the demand for membrane bioreactors. For instance, the Government of Brazil announced an investment of about USD 1.4 billion in sanitation projects under the 'Time to Move Forward-Cities' program in 2018. It also executes regulations for managing municipal waste disposal and industrial discharge in water bodies, which constructively impact the market growth. Furthermore, swift urbanization, industrialization, and increasing demand for processed water further enhance market growth. The abovementioned factors are expected to boost the market's growth during the forecast period.
In the Middle East and Africa, the increasing need for energy-efficient and cost-effective membrane bioreactor systems is expected to boost the market for membrane bioreactors in the Middle East and Africa region. Similarly, rising global awareness of water pollution and rapid urbanization is expected to fuel the region's demand for membrane bioreactor systems during the forecast period.
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