Ultrapure water is defined by end use. It is often clarified even to remove negatively charged ions. While it is ideal for rinsing chips or creating steam, it generally would be a toxic brew if consumed by humans. However, a version called water for injection (WFI) is used by the pharmaceutical industry in the drugs which are injected into the human body.
An ultrapure water system requires removal of the smallest particles with reverse osmosis. A system typically includes ion-exchange or the increasingly popular electrodeionization. Special pumps and piping are necessary to prevent contamination.
Electronics and power are the two big industry segments. Asia dominates the semiconductor, flat panel display, memory storage and photovoltaic manufacturing industries. Asia is the only continent with a big new coal-fired boiler generation program.
The semiconductor market continues to replace obsolete facilities with new ones. The related photovoltaic industry with substantial needs for ultrapure water is growing at double-digit rates.
North American based companies account for 53 percent of the semiconductorultrapure water purchased. However, the end use locations are international. Japan and South Korea each account for 16 percent of the purchases based on home office location. Samsung is forecasting a record breaking $41 billion investment in chip facilities in 2012.
The fastest growing market for ultrapure water in power is in China. The country is building ultrasupercritical coal-fired boilers at an unprecedented pace. In the 2010-2020 timeframe, China will outspend the U.S. on new generators by $550 billion. They will gain 496 GW of coal-fired generating capacity compared to only 14 GW in the U.S.
In the pharmaceutical sector the U.S. will hold onto the leading position through 2017. It will purchase a steady 31 percent of the world’s ultrapure water products. The average increase for all countries will be 30 percent. China will see a 260 percent increase from 2010 as its market share rises from 5 percent to 10 percent of the total market by 2017.