Gas Separation Membranes 2023-2033

The commercial use of gas separation membranes is not new; the industry grew considerably from the 1980s to the early 2000s. Existing membranes are not suitable for every gas separation application, but in the right use-case (including appropriate feedstock, scale, and purity requirements) they can very effectively outcompete other separation techniques; this has resulted in the industry growing into a stable market of modest size.
The market is now entering a new growth phase. This is driven by key market factors, primarily renewable energy and decarbonization applications, and technology advancements responding to those needs. This market report provides a critical technology roadmap, company landscape and market outlook for this evolving industry.
Market developments: Gas separation challenges are central to major renewable energy and decarbonization applications.
As stated, there are many existing stable markets for gas separation membranes, for example nitrogen separation, but the focus of this market report is on the opportunity within emerging gas separation markets. This includes 10-year market forecasts for gas separation membranes in biogas upgrading, natural gas processing, CCUS and hydrogen production.
Detailed analysis of the commercial outlook, market drivers, pain points and company landscape are provided for:
  • Biogas upgrading to biomethane (renewable natural gas – RNG)
  • Carbon capture (post-combustion, pre-combustion, and oxy-fuel combustion) andutilization in enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
  • Hydrogen infrastructure: blue hydrogen production, pipeline transportation and hydrogen carriers
Overview of the opportunities (gray) for use of separation membranes in renewable energy and decarbonization applications. Source: Gas Separation Membranes 2023-2033
A comprehensive overview of major membrane manufacturers, including key products, partnerships, and market developments, as well as interview-based profiles on key emerging companies is included.
This report concludes with an analysis of the helium market landscape and the role that membranes could play in both the production and recovery applications of this essential industry.
Technology developments: Advanced membrane materials and hybrid system solutions gain commercial traction.
There are a wide range of membrane materials including polymeric, ceramic, metallic and composite variants. There are also essential considerations to both their form factor (such as hollow fiber or spiral wound) and ultimately how they are incorporated into the industrial process (including flow rate, operating temperature, and pressure difference) to meet the necessary separation requirements.
There is, of course, competition between membrane players, but the greater challenge in the field is in demonstrating the techno-economic viability for their solutionvs incumbent separation techniques. For each market, outlined above, a comparison against alternative separation techniques (e.g., PSA or cryogenic) and discussion on pain points and technical requirements is provided.
Polymer membranes, including cellulose acetate, polyimide and polysulfone, dominate the current market. Many of these will be at the forefront of some of the key growth areas, such a biogas upgrading, but for other emerging applications the industry will need to explore different system designs and/or utilize materials pushing the Robeson upper bounds to gain any market share.
IDTechEx break these advancements in to two areas: next-generation materials and hybrid processes. The latter can make use of commercial membranes but does not use them in isolation; instead, there is a large amount of activity looking to incorporate membranes alongside other separation techniques (such as cryogenic and membrane separation units used in tandem) or within a novel integrated design (such as a membrane contactor).
There remains an extensive amount of R&D, from both academia and industry, in exploring advanced materials for gas separation membranes. Many of these developments are progressing in their technology and manufacturing readiness and beginning to gain some commercial traction. In the polymeric space there are numerous advancements for both direct material use or inclusion as part of a composite, the latter seeing some key developments in both thin-film composite (TFC) membranes and mixed matrix membranes (MMM); fixed site carriers (FSC), polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs), polybenzimidazole (PBI) based membranes and more have all seen promising early signs for commercial adoption.
Beyond polymer membranes, there is a wide range of alternatives that typically offer either higher selectivity (through their transport mechanisms) or advantageous physical properties, such as operating temperature or resistance to contaminants. This includes metallic membranes, carbon-based membranes, ceramic membranes, and earlier-stage examples such as dual-phase membranes.
Understanding the technology landscape is essential to understanding the market outlook for this industry. This market report provides a detailed independent technology appraisal for these membrane materials including benchmarking studies, unresolved challenges, adoption roadmaps and manufacturer profiles.