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Toray expands with filtration membranes

In Qatar, Toray has won a lucrative deal to supply UF membranes to expand a facility in the capital city of Doha where sewer water is processed for reuse in irrigation

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Toray won major orders in Qatar and Thailand for its hollow fibre ultra-filtration membranes
Toray won major orders in Qatar and Thailand for its hollow fibre ultra-filtration membranes

Toray Industries is looking to the growth markets of Asia and the Middle East to swell its business of filtration membranes for water treatment, aiming to double annual sales in this sector to $808mn by 2020.

The Japanese fibres giant recently won major orders in Qatar and Thailand for its hollow fibre ultra-filtration (UF) membranes. Next spring it plans to manufacture membranes for membrane bioreactors (MBR) for the first time in China, reported Asian Review.

MBR membranes are filters used in combination with biological processes to treat water. To make these in China, Toray will set up a joint venture capitalized at roughly $4.87mn, owned 51% by Toray and 49% by a Beijing water-treatment company. The scale of the investment in the factory is still undecided, but it will have the same production capacity as Toray's domestic plant in Ehime Prefecture, effectively doubling the company's ability to make MBR membranes. Toray does not disclose the capacity for MBR membranes at the Ehime plant.

In Qatar, Toray has won a lucrative deal to supply UF membranes to expand a facility in the capital city of Doha where sewer water is processed for reuse in irrigation. Toray's UF membranes are hollow fibre membranes with 0.01-micron holes that allow water to pass through while eliminating contaminants. The Doha facility now treats 130,000 cu. meters of water per day. Once the expansion is completed in 2017 it will be one of the largest such facilities in Qatar with the capacity to treat 280,000 cu. meters a day.

In Thailand, Toray will supply its UF membranes starting sometime in 2016 for a water-treatment facility to be built in Bangkok that will be one of the largest in Southeast Asia, capable of treating 110,000 cu. meters a day.

The global market for water treatment including membranes and all other aspects of the business was worth an estimated $292.7mn in 2007 and is seen growing to $707.5mn by 2025.
Toray's annual sales in this sector are currently around an estimated $406.6mn.

The company manufactures a wide variety of membranes for water treatment, including reverse osmosis membranes and micro-filtration membranes in addition to the UF and MBR membranes.

However, many companies compete for shares of these global markets, and while Toray stands on par with U.S. giant Dow Chemical in the market for reverse osmosis membranes, it has only small shares in the other sectors.

Toray's plan is to enhance its capacity to manufacture a diverse range of membranes, and to target sales in Asia and the Middle East, where growing populations are pushing up demand for water.

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