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Water reuse in the semiconductor industry ‚?? myth or reality?

01 September 2003 | By Mark Osborne | White Papers > Edition 19, EHS

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Alan E. Rimer, Black & Veatch International, Cary, NC, USA


The world's water resources are becoming strained and many in the world have limited access to potable water. During the fast-paced growth of the semiconductor industry over the last several decades, water has become a precious commodity. This has happened in spite of the fact that in many cases the industry has chosen to locate in arid climates where water is scarce. Why should the semiconductor industry consider reuse? As the demand for scarce water resources grows, and communities face impaired streams that require higher levels of wastewater treatment and required recharge of groundwater aquifers, reuse will become more important. The question is whether the industry can rise to the occasion and embrace reuse. Water conservation in the semiconductor business is not new, but as demand for semiconductors grows in the years ahead, water conservation will become increasingly important. This paper reviews the status of reuse practices in the industry and looks at the current and potential reuse/recycle strategies of a number of major semiconductor manufacturers. The myth is that the industry has not stepped up to the plate on the issue of reuse/recycle. The reality is that it is possible to achieve typical wastewater recycling rates of up to 85% for an 8-inch wafer foundry. The challenge will be to achieve those levels in the newer 12-inch wafer foundries.

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