|Tokyo Report: Water treatment market attracting attention|
(Jiji Press), September 4, 2006
Toray, a leader in the market for systems to desalinate seawater using special membranes, has recently received a series of orders for large desalination projects in countries such as Singapore and Algeria.
Nikkaku, who heads Toray's water treatment division, attributes the increase in orders to cost reductions that have made the systems more affordable.
Toray is currently operating at full capacity in the production of reverse-osmosis membrane, the most effective desalination membrane, in a bid to further expand its desalination business.
Among other Japanese companies involved in water-related businesses, Sanyo Electric Co. launched a joint project in June with Institut Technologi Bandung, a water quality research authority in Indonesia, to develop a water decontamination system for household use, hoping to put it on the market this autumn.
In Indonesia, only 34 percent of people have access to clean tap water and the quality of water is low, according to Sanyo. The Osaka-based company therefore plans to develop an easy-to-install storage tank in which water is purified by means of ozone and biotechnology.
Sanyo intends to make the storage tank readily available in Indonesia as well as other countries.
Tatsuya Hirota, who serves as environment development business leader at Sanyo, says Asia is the biggest market for water decontamination systems. Sanyo hopes to chalk up more than 10 billion yen in sales of such systems in Asia by 2010, he adds.
The market for water-related businesses, including treatment systems and mineral water products, is seen as certain to keep growing, in the eyes of both Nikkaku of Toray and Hirota of Sanyo. Hirota says water will "evidently fall into short supply," while Nikkaku predicts water will become "a matter of life and death."
Shortages of water are seen in the Middle East, India, China, Africa and numerous other places. Against this background, there is strong interest in how Japanese companies, given their advanced water-treatment technologies, will seek to break into the market.