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Eliminating Wastewater: Zero-liquid Discharge Market to $2.7 Billion in 2030

Lux Research

New startups and dominant incumbents GE and Veolia enable a growing market for technologies that can eliminate all liquid waste from power plants and other facilities, Lux Research says

BOSTON, MA – March 1, 2017 – Zero-liquid discharge (ZLD), an approach to wastewater treatment that prevents any liquid waste from flowing out of a power plant or factories, will grow at a 12% annual rate into a $2.7 billion market in 2030. The market will be boosted by technology innovations, rising water cost, and regulations due to growing concerns over surface water contamination, according to Lux Research.

“Leading ZLD providers like GE, Veolia, and Aquatech International have a large chunk of the market, but startups with emerging technologies are addressing cost and energy issues to enable even wider adoption,” said Abhirabh Basu, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report titled, “Assessing Opportunities in the Fast-Growing Zero Liquid Discharge Market.”

“Advanced thermal system providers, innovative membrane distillation systems, and a group of emerging forward-osmosis startups promise to dramatically reduce the overall cost of running ZLD,” he added.


Lux Research compared water treatment and management technology companies on the Lux Innovation Grid, rating them on technical value, business execution, and maturity. Among their findings:

  • Saltworks, Memsys, Aquatech are dominant. Saltworks Technologies, Aquatech and Memsys are among the “dominant” firms on the Lux Innovation Grid, offering advanced thermal solutions. Saltworks’ low-cost systems have found traction in difficult-to-treat industrial wastewaters with oil and gas majors and mining companies.

  • Membrane systems advance. Low-energy membrane systems will come from innovative “high potential” companies like Trevi Systems, Oasys Water and New Logic Research. Trevi has developed a polymer-based draw solution to separate water from wastewater across a membrane; Oasys helps convert difficult-to-treat wastewaters from coal-gasification, and oil and gas plants.

  • Emerging economies drive growth. The recent boost for ZLD comes from developing countries like China and India. The world’s two most populous nations have mandated ZLD systems across industries like new coal gasification plants, thermal power plants, refineries, textiles, distilleries, and pulp and paper.

The report, titled “Assessing Opportunities in the Fast-Growing Zero Liquid Discharge Market,” is part of the Lux Research Water Intelligence service.