Mystery German chip fab sips on Gradiant's ultrapure water

Most advanced semiconductor facility in Europe is being subsidized by Chips Act funding

Water treatment company Gradiant has won a contract to build a plant providing ultrapure water for a chip fabrication facility being constructed in Germany by an unnamed "large semiconductor manufacturer."

The project will see Gradiant's recently acquired subsidiary, H+E Group, design and install a treatment plant to provide purified water for use in manufacturing semiconductors. The company claims that its process is capable of recycling up to 90 percent of the water used in a fab, reducing the amount of freshwater a chip factory draws from the environment.

According to Gradiant, this project is supported by the European Chips Act, and will be one of the most advanced and sustainable semiconductor manufacturing facilities in Europe.

The company refused to disclose the site for this project, or say who the customer is that's building the fabrication facility, other than confirming: it's "one of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturers."

This would indicate two potential candidates; Intel's "Silicon Junction" facility being erected at Magdeburg in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, or the chip factory being built near Dresden as a joint venture between NXP, Infineon and Bosch, plus Taiwanese contract chip maker TSMC.

Both projects are being subsidized by funding under the European Chips Act, which aims to boost Europe's semiconductor manufacturing.

The upcoming fab will serve the renewable energy, datacenter, and electric vehicle markets. This would point to the Dresden facility as NXP, Infineon, and Bosch all supply the automotive industry, and Intel's Magdeburg plant is focusing on cutting-edge production nodes for its processors.

Gradiant is also coy about how much the project is worth, and told us it is part of a "$120 million project pipeline."

"As increasing demand, supportive policy, and private investment drive semiconductor growth in the EU and around the world, leading chipmakers are seeing water innovation as a means of ensuring long-term operational resilience and achieving sustainability goals," Gradiant chief operating officer Prakash Govindan said in a statement.

H+E Group is headquartered in Stuttgart, and the operation deals with industrial water treatment and water reclamation. It was acquired by Gradiant in October.

A case study on one of the company's completed projects is available here [PDF].

The semiconductor industry is said to consume about 264 billion gallons of water per year globally, with about three-quarters used in semiconductor fabs and processed to ultrapure form for production steps such as wafer cleaning, rinsing, and surface conditioning.

Despite this, the semiconductor industry in the US last year lobbied Washington to let it bypass US environmental protection rules in order to speed up fab construction there. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like