Municipal Disinfection Market Grows as UV Segment Expands

Municipal Disinfection Market Grows as UV Segment Expands
UV inactivates bacteria, viruses and chlorine-resistant protozoa. (Photos courtesy of TrojanUV)

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Driven by rising demand for water reuse, the market for disinfection systems is expected to reach $2.96 billion globally in 2019, according to a report by analysts Frost & Sullivan. While chlorine-based products will continue to dominate, UV systems are expected to experience rapid growth. 

Industrialization and urbanization, coupled with more stringent legislation, is requiring extensive water reuse, the analysis states. That includes growth in water-critical industries such as power, food and beverage and pharmaceuticals. 

“There is population growth and increased industrialization leading to a rise in demand for water, but what isn’t growing is the amount of water available on the planet,” says Wayne Lem, market manager for TrojanUV, a manufacturer of UV disinfection systems. “We are not generating more water, and that creates water-stress issues around quality and quantity, which in turn, is a key driver for water reuse and disinfection processes.”

Lem says the market for disinfection systems on the municipal side in North America is experiencing about 5 percent growth in both wastewater and drinking water, versus stronger growth globally – particularly in the Asia-Pacific region – largely due to the stronger economies in that region. The Frost & Sullivan analysis forecasts a shift within that market from chlorine-related systems, which currently have a 38.7 percent share, to UV and AOP (Advanced Oxidation Process) disinfection, which should account for 33.7 percent of the market by 2019.

Factors behind growing UV use

That said, Lem points to several factors driving UV growth: 

  • Regulations – More stringent regulations, particularly to disinfect microorganisms such as Cryptosporidium, which is chlorine-resistant. Also, regulations have established levels for disinfection byproducts in drinking water, some of which are tied to carcinogens. With UV, which is a physical process, there are no disinfection byproducts or a chorine residual (which is toxic to the environment), and that makes it an ideal technology to safeguard human health and protect the environment. 
  • Safety – Chlorine comes in several forms, including chlorine gas, which is common for large treatment plants, or liquid chlorine, which is bleach. Chlorine gas can present safety hazards to operators and the community. With liquid bleach, skin protection is an issue. UV systems, which use light to disinfect water, don’t raise such safety concerns. 
  • Cost – North American water and wastewater plants are seeking cost-effective ways to upgrade older facilities or retrofit them to add more capacity. When considering total installed costs, or lifecycle costs, UV systems are typically lower. 
  • Carbon Footprint – Municipalities favor UV because of its lower carbon footprint. That includes producing and shipping chemicals, often over long distances. Taking a statistical average of the types of power used to generate electricity (coal, natural gas, wind, etc.) in the United States, UV has a lower life cycle cost with the added benefit of a lower carbon footprint. 

Disinfecting with light

With UV systems, water passes by ultraviolet lamps submerged in the effluent, which alter the DNA of the bacteria or microorganisms. As a result, they cannot multiply and are rendered inactivated, so they can’t harm humans. UV has been around more than 100 years and has been used in various industries for equipment sterilization. 

“We’re definitely seeing a shift from chlorine to UV systems, with more than 25 percent of wastewater treatment plants using this environmentally friendly technology in the United States,” Lem says. “The vast majority of our projects involve upgrades or retrofits to water and wastewater plants as there are not a lot of new plants being built in the United States these days. As plants grow in capacity due to urbanization or industrialization, and handle more wastewater treatment, we see them upgrading and selecting UV as their disinfection technology of choice.” 

There are more than 8,500 TrojanUV system installations, in 102 countries, treating a combined 50 billion gallons of municipal water and wastewater per day. TrojanUV is part of the Trojan Technologies group of companies. The solutions and services provided by each company in the group play vital roles in making various stages of water treatment processes more effective, efficient and sustainable.


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