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Demand for water treatment chemicals forecast to rise

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Demand for water treatment chemicals in the US is forecast to rise 3.2%/y to US$7.3 billion in 2019, representing 15.6 billion lbs, according to Freedonia’s ‘US Water Treatment Chemicals Market’ report. Rising demand will be supported by the increase in water recycling and reuse, both processes that typically needs more aggressive chemical treatment than fresh supply water or wastewater being treated for disposal. Increasing reliance on membranes and other types of water treatment equipment that work best when the water has been pretreated with chemicals will also support demand. Additionally, tighter standards for process water and wastewater quality, and concerns about the environmental impact of certain chemicals, will continue to favor more expensive specialty chemicals that can be used in lower doses and are less hazardous.

The increased adoption of water treatment equipment has also impacted the market for water treatment chemicals. While growth in biocide demand will be limited by the increased use of disinfection equipment, demand for other water treatment chemicals such as corrosion and scale inhibitors, foam control agents, and chelating agents will be supported by the increased use of equipment that requires pretreatment of the water with chemicals in order to maintain efficiency and prevent damage. The growing use of membranes, in particular, will support demand for coagulants and flocculants.

While demand for most water treatment chemicals is expected to rise at a healthy pace, growth in biocide sales will continue to be much slower. In addition to the negative impact of the rising use of disinfection equipment, biocide demand growth will be restrained by changing regulations and public opinion. In the municipal market, disinfection byproduct regulations have led to a decline in biocide use, although some biocides will continue to be necessary to meet residual disinfection requirements. In other markets, rising standards for process water will also restrain biocide demand, since biocides can be considered contaminants.

Among the major markets for water treatment chemicals, the municipal and manufacturing markets will continue to represent the bulk of demand. The mature municipal market will exhibit steady gains going forward, on pace with the increases seen over the previous decade, as municipal water use trends tend to be stable and slow to change. Additionally, water treatment operators are more price sensitive and often slow to adopt new technologies unless prompted to do so by changing regulations. The manufacturing and electric power generation markets are expected to show improved growth over the more limited gains seen in the 2009 - 2014 period. The increasing adoption of more expensive, more efficient chemicals will offset efforts to limit chemical usage due to more stringent standards for process water and wastewater.

The energy and mining and mineral processing markets are also forecast to post strong gains going forward, supported by industry efforts to reuse water, as well as tighter restrictions on treated wastewater in some states. Demand for water treatment chemicals in commercial and institutional, consumer, and other markets will rise at a more limited pace, though gains in the consumer market will represent an improvement over previous years.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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