The Kurita Group considers it necessary to achieve both industrial development and preservation of the global environment if humanity is to enjoy a prosperous lifestyle in perpetuity. The Group will introduce water treatment into the manufacturing processes for various products, helping to improve productivity and product quality. We will also contribute to solutions for environmental issues associated with industry development.
The Kurita Group conducts basic research on water treatment in the form of analysis and fluid and process analysis, which form the foundation of its products and services. We are also working to develop products and technologies that contribute to solving issues such as water saving and energy saving for customers and society.
Proportion of themes falling into “Contribution to improvement of
production process” to product development themes
Development of Water Treatment Improvement Proposal Support Tools Using Insights on Water Treatment and Data
The Kurita Group’s products and services are applied to a wide range of equipment related to overall water treatment at plants, from boiler and cooling water facilities, to water treatment facilities and wastewater treatment facilities. Since the operating conditions and operating status of each facility differ by operation site, significant experience has been needed to provide optimal proposals for water saving, energy saving, and waste reduction. The Kurita Group used its accumulated insight and data on water treatment to develop a Water Treatment Improvement Proposal Support Tool, which has enabled us to make faster, more suitable proposals for customers.
Establishing Next-Generation Semiconductor Washing Technology
IoT is spreading rapidly in applications for increasing convenience in daily life and increasing the efficiency of energy use. Today, semiconductors are used not only in electronic devices such as PCs, but also in various products such as household appliances and automobiles. To support this movement, we expect to see advances in semiconductors as well as increased production volume. This will create demand for reducing the energy usage of semiconductors themselves, as well as saving energy in their production process.Research is under way to achieve further scaling and energy saving of semiconductors with a focus on new semiconductor materials and structures. As part of this effort, there is a move to replace some copper wiring elements with cobalt. However, this presents a significant problem as cobalt dissolves readily in the ultrapure water used for washing in the semiconductor manufacturing process.
The Kurita Group is involved in joint research at imec*1, looking at next-generation semiconductor production technologies in response to the issues raised by diversifying washing methods associated with application of new materials and increased structural sophistication. Given the current issue, we will contribute to increased productivity in next-generation semiconductors by establishing ultrapure water production technology for rinsing*2 with controlled water quality and characteristics, as well as washing technologies that make use of it.We have already identified the characteristics of ultrapure water suitable for rinsing cobalt wiring and associated technologies for producing it, and we are currently carrying out trial testing with advanced semiconductor manufacturers.
- ※1Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (imec) headquartered in Belgium is one of the world’s largest private institutions related to semiconductors. Under its research mission to establish semiconductor design and manufacture technologies that are several generations ahead, the organization promotes joint development projects with leading semiconductor manufacturers and semiconductor manufacturing equipment and material manufacturers from all over the world. Kurita Water Industries is the first water treatment company to participate in joint research at imec.
- ※2Rinse: To remove chemicals used for washing
Using AI to Reduce Energy Consumption
The Kurita Group operates the ultrapure water supply business, mainly at large-scale production plants for semiconductors and LCD displays. This involves constructing and maintaining water treatment facilities inside customers’ plants, supplying ultrapure water for washing, and appropriately treating, reclaiming, and reusing wastewater from production plants. The Group is working on using artificial intelligence (AI) to stabilize and optimize operation and maintenance of water treatment facilities. As part of this initiative, we have automated the temperature control of supplied ultrapure water.
The ultrapure water supplied to production plants is heated to increase its washing capability; however, since the ultrapure water production facility and the manufacturing plant are separated in some cases, the water is heated to a high temperature on the supply side so that it will have cooled to the optimal temperature on the receiving side. Using AI, the temperature at the production facility can be predicted, taking into account the weather conditions and other factors, in order to set the heating temperature. This enables users to reduce excessive energy use for heating and cooling.