The biggest growth will come in the medium efficiency filter category. This includes filters such as 3M filtrate medium efficiency filter. Sales will grow by more than $1 billion/yr in the next five years to $4.2 billion in 2010. This is also the largest category, followed by high efficiency, low efficiency, gas phase, and electronic. Gas phase filters which included those impregnated with activated carbon or other adsorbents are gaining popularity for capture of harmful volatile organic compounds and for reduction of odors.
The commercial/institutional sector will be the largest purchaser followed in order by gas turbine intakes, residential, metal fabricating, electronics, and bioclean. Intake filters for gas turbines are a big business, but the rise in natural gas prices has crippled the U.S. market. However, gas turbine purchases are growing elsewhere.
The growth in electronics is mainly in Asia. Nearly all the new flat panel display and disk drive plants are located in Asia. Many of the new wafer fabrication facilities are also being built in this region. The bioclean segment includes hospitals, pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
The U.S. is losing share in many segments of the air filtration market, but one where it will remain the leading purchaser by a wide margin is in the medium efficiency category. In 2009, U.S purchases will be over $1.4 billion, or more than triple those in China which will have moved into the second position by that date.
Another area where the U.S. will remain the leader is in the pharmaceutical sector. The U.S. pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry consists of about 2,500 plants located throughout the country. These include establishments that make pharmaceutical preparations or finished drugs; biological products, such as serums and vaccines; bulk chemicals and botanicals used in making finished drugs; and diagnostic substances. The U.S. employed 300,000 people in the pharmaceutical industry. Of these, 90,000 are production employees.
Technology developments are also significant in terms of industry growth and the competitive position of the participants. Development of smaller diameter fibers in non-wovens creates better performance without an increase in energy consumption. The better utilization of the phenomenon of electrostatic attraction is also improving performance.
A number of international companies have commenced manufacturing of air filters and media in China. While most of the production will be slated for local consumption, a significant percentage will be for export. Thus China is becoming a major production center for the industry.
The biggest wild cards in market forecasts are bioterrorism and avian flu. The present forecast includes less than $50 million in sales per year for these problems. But a major catastrophe could result in billions of dollars spent for isolation of buildings, hospital rooms and even commercial and residential buildings. The use of high efficiency air filters would be a key element in providing protection.
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