RO applications in China: History, current status, and driving forces

Xiaofen Chen, Zhenxing Zhang, Li Liu, Rong Cheng, Lei Shi, Xiang Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RO membrane technology has been broadly applied in China in the past two decades and its applications increased quickly, as China is faced with a combination of rapid growth of heavy industries, large population, and water stress. The literature often underestimated the scale of RO applications in China as it was traditionally derived from surveys of RO membrane plants. Chinese RO market is highly monopolized, which provides an alternative to examine RO applications. This study collected manufacturing and sales data of RO membrane modules from limited RO membrane manufacturers, and analyzed the history and driving forces. For 2014, 1.8 million 8-inch RO membrane modules were used by membrane plants in China and the output capacity was about 27 million m3/d. RO plants are mainly applied for heavy industries, such as power, petrochemical, and coal industries. The power industry has highest number and output capacity of RO applications. RO plants are clustered in three regions, i.e. coastal provinces; northern China; and other provinces with advanced electronic, pharmaceutical and landfill leachate treatment industries. The RO applications in China were primarily driven by decreasing cost, rapid development of domestic membrane manufacturers, fast development of industries, and increasing water stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-193
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Driving forces
  • Membrane technology
  • Reverse Osmosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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