The water-intensive semiconductor industry has been experiencing a surge in demand for chips as nations and businesses accelerate their digitalisation strategies. This, in turn, will require increased water recycling and even greater quantities of ultra-pure water. Prakash Govindan, COO of Gradiant, elaborates on the growing importance for the water-intensive semiconductor industry to embrace sustainability in the supply chain.
Asia-Pacific plays a crucial role in the global supply chain as it hosts over 40% of the world’s manufacturing. Given the importance of the region, the effects of environmental impacts are heightened – as are the economic and social benefits that can be recognised with the adoption of sustainable practices. This is compounded by the region’s rapid industrialisation and large population base, where responsible management practices are even more essential to balance economic growth and quality of life.
In early 2021, the Singapore government unveiled the Singapore Green Plan 2030, aimed at moving the city-state towards fulfilling its green aspirations. An important aspect of the Green Plan is the use of circular economy models to maximise the lifecycle of natural resources, allowing them to be used many times over to reduce the overall volume of waste produced.
Key beneficiaries of circular economy models are water-intensive industries, which consume valuable freshwater from already water-stressed regions. By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. Freshwater scarcity poses a major threat to economic growth, water security, and sustainability for our future generations. The challenge of providing adequate and safe drinking water is further complicated by climate change and the pressures of economic development. These stresses drive the need to make the most out of our limited water supplies.
Water as a critical resource
The recovery and reuse of wastewater with advanced treatment technologies have become a growing trend to achieve water sustainability. Essential industries such as semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and food and beverage rank among the world’s most water-intensive sectors. A large semiconductor manufacturing facility may require up to 5 million gallons of municipal water per day, using water to produce silicon wafers or cool down equipment – this is equivalent to the daily domestic water consumption of a city with a population of 136,000. The manufacture of one 300mm integrated circuit, along, will require 2,200 gallons of water. Recent droughts in Taiwan and Arizona, two major areas for semiconductor manufacturing, have threatened global supply chains, operational continuity, and expansion plans.
The full article is available on the latest edition of Water & Wastewater Asia Jan/Feb 2022 issue. To continue reading, click here.