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The Separations Report 2019 (2nd biennial edition)



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The Separations Report – 2019: Commercial, Technical and R&D Assessment in
Petrochemical/Syngas, Natural Gas and Industrial Gases

– 2nd Biennial Edition –

This TCGR multi-client study was launched in March 2019 and completed in July 2019. The study’s scope, and specific contents (as depicted in the TofC on pages 13-23 of the presentation available via download here), reflect the inputs from a group of “charter” subscribers who indicated their priorities for coverage, areas to be expanded/ deepened and focal points for emphasis in opportunity identification. These are leading developers, suppliers, and end-users industrial separations technologies.

Selected study highlights and findings include:

  • The overall global market size for membranes and adsorbents for the market segments defined will amount to $978 million in 2019 and will grow to $1.32 billion in 2024, a CAGR of 6.2%. Market growth is driven by underlying strong growth rates in chemical manufacture, natural gas processing, and industrial gas usage. Both membrane- and adsorbent-based separations technologies will continue to find acceptance in new applications, which will further drive their respective growth rates.

Figure 1. Worldwide Separations Market in 2024 (Adsorbents and Membranes only) by Industrial Process Area

  • Membrane technology continues to advance across the natural gas, industrial gas, refining, petrochemical, water treatment, and CO2 capture markets. Increasing concerns over GHG emissions, air pollution, water scarcity and sustainability in general are driving the development of membranes. Membrane performance continues to improve through materials innovations and system control/optimization advancements.
  • There are a large number of separations-intensive, high total-energy-consumption, end-products that provide an array of opportunities for adsorptive separations and materials. Among those that are currently distillation applications are olefin/paraffin, organic/water azeotropes, dilute organics removal from water, polyols separations, cryogenic air separation and isomer separations.
  • CO2 removal for carbon capture or natural gas purification is best done at large scale through the use of absorbent/solvent technology. State-of-the-art absorbents/solvent remain hindered amines, but other solvents like mixed salts and ionic liquids have shown some promise. In addition, much of the recent research has focused on minimizing the energy consumption for solvent regeneration, improving the absorption efficiency and increasing capacity.
  • Much of the recent activity in distillation has been around process intensification concepts like reactive distillation, heat integration, and divided wall concepts. Highlights of these include high-G distillation, usually involving a packed bed, which has seen a few industrial applications, and the first commercialization of SUPERHIDiC heat-integrated distillation column water/MEK separation at Maruzen Petrochemical.
  • Systems engineering and process intensification (PI) should not be forgotten. Separations materials themselves account for only 10-20% of system costs, so advances in process technology could create the step change that allows for further implementation of membranes and adsorbents. At the same time, advanced distillation techniques are making existing separations more economical, putting further pressure on the membranes and adsorbents to become more cost effective in a feedback loop.
  • Consolidation in the market that was noted two years ago (2017) continues apace, most notably with the merger of Linde and Praxair. However, many small companies, especially for the development of membranes and distillation technology, still have their niches and could become large if they succeed with their breakthrough strategies in areas like olefin-paraffin separation or CO2 Other fast-growing applications like natural gas purification and biogas purification have established technologies but are ripe for disruption due to their rapid growth and the commercial potential they offer.

In its 2019 report, TCGR has documented opportunities and/or challenges within each approach, including the following:


  • Selective H2S removal from Natural Gas
  • Hybrid Metal Organic Framework (MOF) Adsorbents
  • Adsorbents for Post- and Pre-Combustion CO2 Capture


  • Improved Oxygen Enrichment from Air
  • Olefins/paraffin Separations
  • Hybrid Aromatics/p-xylenes
  • Methane in Biogas Applications (CO2 Removal)
  • CO2 Capture in Flue Gas
  • Water/organic Solvent Separations


  • Combined reaction/separation approaches
  • Advanced thermal separations, including extractive distillation

As it did in the 2017 edition, the 2019 study covers the following topics:

  • Market size/growth, key trends and competitor profiles
  • Application advances by industry
  • Technical advances by separations approach (i.e., adsorbents, membranes, distillation/thermal, reactive separations, etc.)
  • Strategic analysis and competitive implications

This 2019 update, completed in July, builds upon, but goes well beyond, the foundation established in 2017, serving as a new “gold standard” for the separations industry.

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 Notice to Subscribers of TCGR’s 2017 edition of The Separations Report (1st edition):

 Due to the complementary nature of this study to TCGR’s previous report in this area, namely The Separations Report – 2017 (1st edition) completed in October 2017, TCGR is offering a discount of $1,000 off “The Separations Report – 2019 (2nd edition)” to subscribers of that study. Subscribers are requested to contact Steve Deutsch at +1.215.628.4447, or sdeutsch@catalystgrp.com if further details are required or to determine if your organization is entitled. When completing the order form, please make sure to indicate your company’s subscription to the earlier report.

Additional information, including the complete study presentation, actual Table of Contents and the Order Form, can be downloaded via the link below or by contacting Steve Deutsch at +1.215.628.4447 or sdeutsch@catalystgrp.com.

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As it does in each of its industrially-focused multi-client studies, TCGR has sought input from “charter” subscribers (i.e., those who signed up prior to study launch) to help shape the report’s final scope/TofC by delineating areas of particular interest, including the applications by industry and separations method, as depicted in Sections IV and V in the TofC.

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The Catalyst Group Resources (TCGR), a member of The Catalyst Group, is dedicated to monitoring and analyzing technical and commercial developments in catalysis as they apply to the global refining, petrochemical, fine/specialty chemical, pharmaceutical, polymer/elastomer and environmental industries.