Special-Edition Viewpoints Address The Pandemic Crisis

In the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, pathways and opportunities in technology commercialization are undergoing dramatic transformation on many fronts. In an effort to address Explorer clients' urgent need to understand both the near- and longer-term impacts, we are providing a special set of analyses about the pandemic's impact on technology commercialization that will replace the standard May and June 2020 Viewpoints publications. (Read the full announcement about these special analyses.)

  • The May 2020 documents identify a wide range of key forces that will likely have a major influence on prospects for six consequential technology domains, imagining a plausible range of alternative outcomes that these forces could have during the coming five to ten years. These outcomes serve as building blocks for creating effective responses to the pandemic.
  • The June 2020 documents will provide a scenarios-based analysis for each of the six technology domains, with emphasis on how the key uncertain forces might interact and influence commercialization pathways in alternative postpandemic futures.

Because the developments we describe affect multiple technologies, we have organized our standard Technology Areas into six technology domains. We encourage clients to engage with all six special-edition Viewpoints to gain a broad view of potential changes and opportunities in technology commercialization. Please contact us if you do not already have access to all six technology domains, and we will be happy to provide you with the remaining articles in the collection.

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About This Technology

Membrane separations eliminate the thermal degradation, chemical changes, and azeotropic-recovery limitation that can occur in distillation or evaporation. For this reason, membrane separations are suitable for separating temperature-sensitive products. In addition, they are often less energy intensive than conventional separation processes, and the separation systems are modular, allowing very easy scale-up of processes. Eight major membrane-separation processes—microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, reverse osmosis, electrodialysis, electrodeionization, gas separation, and pervaporation—are in use in such application areas as desalination, water purification (drinking water, wastewater, and ultrapure water), chemical and food processing, biopharmaceutical manufacturing, drug delivery, drug discovery, bioseparations, and medical treatment.

Synthetic membranes constitute a growing market and are providing enhanced separation capabilities in a wide variety of industries. Companies have invested in developing membrane-separation processes to perform separations that other, more conventional separation processes—such as evaporation, distillation, or extraction—cannot perform or to perform separations whose membrane processes are more efficient. Such investments can result in the creation of new business opportunities as costs for membrane systems come down or as new membrane-separation techniques become technically feasible.

New membranes will operate under a wider range of temperatures and chemical environments and will provide more selective separations than are now possible. Increased global concern for the environment, demand for clean water, and energy efficiency are likely to result in increased opportunities for membranes.