California has experienced an unseasonably warm and dry winter. The lack of winter precipitation is a concern for California residents, as it may lead to droughts in the summer and fall of 2012. Texas faces similar concerns, having suffered an intense year-long drought in 2011. Texans now anticipate yet another drought season in 2012 as a result of the La Nina Effect.
In times of drought, desalination becomes an appealing option for addressing dwindling water supplies. Just last Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited El Paso’s desalination plant to showcase this technology as a viable option to address Texas’ water concerns.
Desalination technologies, though still controversial, have made many advances over the past years in efficiency and environmental safety. (A discussion of the environmental costs of desalination). For instance, Water Standard Company’s US patent 7510658 focuses on reducing the energy use of a desalination plant and lowering the salinity of desalination plant effluent. Kurita Water Industries’ US patent 7,540,292 targets the environmental effects of cleaning and maintaining permeable membranes in reverse osmosis desalination systems, by developing safe and effective detergent formulas.
Over the past decade, companies have increased their interest in new desalination technologies. From 2002 to 2011, the number of published desalination patent documents across European, United States, and WIPO patent publications increased from 379 to 824 – over a 200% increase.
The top technology companies in the desalination patent space are Japan Organo and Kurita Water, powerful players in Japan’s water infrastructure. Japan Organo has multiple 1000-6000 m3/d desalination plants in Hyoga, Japan, while Kurita Water has smaller installations in Gunma and Shizuoka, Japan.
For US patent documents, the top players in desalination technologies are Betz Laboratories (now GE Betz as part of GE Water Technologies), Calgon, Nitto Denko, and Dow Chemical.
Betz Laboratories and Calgon Carbon are US-based companies focused on chemical treatments of wastewater and saltwater.
Nitto Denko is a multinational electronics, manufacturing, and chemicals conglomerate based in Japan. Nitto Denko Corporation recently announced a business collaboration with Singapore-based fiber membrane manufacturer, Memstar Technology Ltd, in a bid to enter China’s growing desalination market.
Dow Chemical is yet another global player. It’s reverse osmosis technologies not only feature heavily in the United States market, but are at the forefront of desalination installations in Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The CleanTech PatentEdgeTM solution provides company data and industry trends for the entire desalination space. All charts are generated from CleanTech PatentEdgeTM analytics tools. Sign up for a free demo today.