National Semiconductors Ltd.: Innovation in the water sourcing for increasing water and energy savings
National Semiconductor Ltd is one of the leading companies in the manufacturing of semiconductors (miniaturized electronic circuits used to amplify or switch electronic signals). Ultra-pure water plays an essential role in the manufacturing of integrated circuit semiconductor chips. Statistics indicate that creating an integrated circuit requires approximately 2,200 gallons (10,000 litres) of water in total, of which 1,500 gallons (6,800) is ultra-pure water; the estimated cost on water and wastewater systems and services is around US$1 billion . In collaboration with GE Energy, the company developed a system to reduce both water usage and energy consumption at the firm’s factory in Scotland. While a typical site recovery rate for a reverse osmosis (RO) system would be approximately 75-80 per cent, by reusing the reject streams from the existing RO and electro-deionization phases, the company’s UW plant was able to reduce its waste and improve water recovery above 90 per cent, reaching a maximum of 99 per cent. This innovative system cut annual water usage by 40 million gallons (180 million litres) and reduced the plant’s carbon footprint by 200 tonnes per year.