Water challenges

The semicon industry, one of the world’s largest in terms of added value, is a thirsty business. A single 8-inch silicon wafer, the basis for about 100 chips, can require up to 7,500 liters of water to produce. About two-thirds of that has to be ultrapure water. UPW can be regarded as an industrial solvent. It is purified to the most stringent of standards for all contaminant types, including organic and inorganic compounds, dissolved and particulate matter, and dissolved gases. 

UPW is necessary because the slightest impurity can disturb sensitive photolithographic processes and cause defects in electronic components in semiconductor chips and photovoltaic cells. 

Some chip manufacturing locations consume well over 3 billion liters of water per year. Many are located in arid or semi-arid regions, adding to water stress. Reduction, reuse and recycling is necessary to bring relief to locally available water sources, the environment, and total production costs. 

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UPW is critical in producing silicon wafers. The manufacturing process has several steps in which the wafers are cleaned and rinsed with UPW. Trace impurities can lead to decreased output and defects. Minerals in the water can get deposited on the wafer and lead to short-circuiting. With the wafers becoming ever smaller, it becomes increasingly important to remove trace components, including all colloidal and dissolved silica. The level of silica (SiO2) in UPW may not exceed 0.3 ppb. A typical UPW system has a pretreatment stage, a primary stage to further purify the water, and a polishing stage.

Water demands are expected to grow along with the complexity of new generation chips, warranting investments in conservation and treatment for reuse. The production of semiconductors also involves chemicals, and the wastewater contains a range of contaminants that may be harmful to surface waters and even the integrity of groundwater reservoirs. Wastewater treatment in the semiconductor industry is being closely monitored by regulatory authorities, whose most important demands are reduced consumption and low levels of suspended solids in discharged wastewater.


Pentair Advanced Filtration delivers high-quality ultrafiltration membrane solutions. Key performance indicators such as footprint, energy and chemicals consumption are the basis for designing tailor-made water treatment installations. Ultrafiltration is the ideal pretreatment for reverse osmosis and other final polishing methods, and will result in increased lifetime and enhanced performance of these downstream processes. Pentair Advanced Filtration is your partner in the development of, and supplier of the vital components in, optimum solutions for your water challenges. 

Water reuse is a key element in the reducing the footprint of the semiconductor industry. Recycling offers a great return on investment and can pay for itself in a matter of months if you can quickly produce an effluent of reusable quality. Pentair Advanced Filtration is a leading supplier of MBR technology characterized by high biodegradation efficiency and effluent quality. We offer the solutions that make the difference in demanding applications by focusing on reliability, cost-efficiency and synergy. Our integrated approach and technologies offer the best reuse opportunities. 

Treatment solutions

  • UF as the mainstay of ultrapure water (UPW) production
  • Silica removal
  • Pretreatment for reverse osmosis and/or desalination
  • Effluent polishing
  • Aerobic biological wastewater treatment (MBR)
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