Operational and financial benefits drive wastewater treatment in semiconductor plants

Paul Boughton
Water and wastewater management opportunities are growing within the microelectronics and semiconductors manufacturing plants market to help address environmental restrictions, rising costs and the requirement for ever-decreasing particle size removal in ultrapure water.
The use for semiconductors is rising globally, fed by the ever-growing number of electronic devices and the rapidly expanding middle classes in developing regions. Advanced water and wastewater treatment technologies that cater to this demand while reducing the impact on the environment and operating budgets too are seeing high uptake.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, CEO 360: Water and Wastewater Management Opportunities in the Global Microelectronics and Semiconductors Market, reveals the water and wastewater management market within the global microelectronics and semiconductor market earned revenues of $985 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $1,388.50 million in 2016.[Page Break]
“The need for purer ultrapure water to accommodate for decreasing chip sizes brings opportunities for higher performance water filtration technologies and wastewater treatment and recycling equipment,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Seth Cutler. “Recycling wastewater will also decrease a plant’s environmental impact and drive internal efficiencies.”
Semiconductor and photovoltaic companies will look for high technical competence, strong references and robust project management credentials in water management companies. Integrated water and wastewater treatment solutions will offer better synchronization between ultrapure water treatment, wastewater treatment, and reclaim and reuse processes, thus providing a closed loop system for clients. As such, refining current wastewater treatment technologies through innovation, instrumentation and analytical automation to enable cost reduction and increase competitive advantages is the fastest way forward.
However, the cost of water and wastewater management equipment, the frequency at which equipment may need to be added during plant expansion and assuring compliance with future environmental regulations will be deterrents to sales.
“There are real and perceived risks from installing new equipment and technologies and clients are wary of any disruption to manufacturing since it results in great losses for the fabrication plant,” observes Cutler. “This strong internal pressure to ensure that investments are carried out at the right time and in the right investment space means that water management companies must be prepared with strong business plans that reveal a clear return on investment.”[Page Break]
Another issue is hesitancy in the semiconductor market due to the acknowledged challenge of cyclical patterns of consumer purchasing. Nonetheless, investments in water and wastewater technologies that deliver efficiency and long-term savings for fabrication plants will reduce operating costs and increase proportional revenues from sales.
Geographically, the Asia Pacific will continue to dominate the water and wastewater equipment market for semiconductors in the immediate future. With the market looking towards efficiencies through industrial convergence to streamline operations and sales, geographic shifts are ongoing. The core of sales will be APAC, but a percentage may swing back to North America as competitive advantages begin to even out. The Middle East is also expected to enter the market shortly.
For more information, visit www.frost.com

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