What Is An Ultrapure Water System?

Water is an extremely powerful force. We see it carve its way through land to form amazing geographical features like the Grand Canyon. So what can water do in your system? Ultrapure water systems clean water – keeping it particle free – so it can be used to clean and etch in manufacturing, especially in the semiconductor industry.

Industries that use ultrapure water use a lot of it. For instance, to process a single wafer, over 1,000 gallons of water is needed. So it’s important to understand what an ultrapure water system does, how to maintain it, and how to make the most of it to keep your system working and prevent yield loss.

What Does An Ultrapure Water System Do?

Ultrapure water systems free water of any contaminants or pollutants that could cause harm to the object the water is being used on. For example, if the water is being used to keep an object clean and free of pollutants, then water with contaminants in it really defeats the purpose. If the ultrapure water is being used to etch a semiconductor, then having even very small particles in the water could cause damage to the delicate semiconductor.

While we don’t typically think of water as dirty (we use it to wash our hands after all), an ultrapure water system’s job is to actually make that water clean enough to not cause any issues in the micro-environment. It does so through a complex mix of chemical reactions and physical elements, such as filters, through 3 phases: pre-treatment, primary, and polishing.

How Does An Ultrapure Water System Work?

There are three stages in an ultrapure water system: pretreatment, primary, and polishing.

In the pretreatment phase, you get the basic purified water. Depending on your system, you may use two pass Reverse Osmosis, Demineralization and Reverse Osmosis, or High Efficiency Reverse Osmosis (HERO). Additionally, the water is cleaned of any large debris easily caught in a filter. This phase also might incorporate Activated Carbon or sodium bisulfite to dechlorinate the water.

Next, the water enters the primary treatment phase. During this phase the water is passed under ultraviolet light as well as undergoing electrodeionization or a mixed bed ion to achieve maximum demineralization. To finish this step, you might use dissolved oxygen removal using membrane or vacuum degasification.

Finally, the last and most important (but sometimes expensive) step in creating ultrapure water. In this stage, ultraviolet light and heat exchange is used to control the temperature in the ultrapure water supply. Then non-regenerable ion exchange coupled with membrane degasification and ultrafiltration are used to truly filter the water down to the necessary particle level.

After these three stages, the ultrapure water is ready to be utilized in your system.

Who Uses An Ultrapure Water System?

There are a number of industries that use ultrapure water systems. One of the most common is the semiconductor industry – where ultrapure water is used to both clean and etch. In the semiconductor industry, the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) sets the standards and future goals for cleanliness. 

Ultrapure water is also used in the pharmaceutical industry – where product integrity is always at the forefront of mind. Industry standard in the pharmaceutical industry dictates that the level of dissolved solids in water used for pharmaceutical purposes must be at least 10,000 times lower than the dissolved solids level found in standard potable water.

Basically, drinking water isn’t clean enough for use in these systems.

As someone who drinks water pretty regularly, this might concern you; however, it just goes to show how much attention is paid to the detailed cleanliness of the water used in these industries. While the water is perfectly safe for drinking, for use in pharmaceuticals, it must be completely free organic materials and bacteria.

The same standard is used for ultrapure water used in laboratories, to handle tissue samples, flow cytometry, and pyrogen sensitive applications. It also has a high resistivity, which makes it ideal for use in a laboratory setting.

But anyone who uses an ultrapure water system needs to know that the water that leaves the system is truly ready to be used in the desired setting. Water pollutants could lead to yield loss, dangerous contamination, and destruction.

Is An Ultrapure Water System Right For Your Business?

Are you working in a setting where an ultrapure water system is right for you? If you are, then you should also invest in a quality liquid particle counter.

A liquid particle counter will monitor the ultrapure water you are using in your setting to make sure it’s truly as clean as you need it to be to maintain the standards you hold your ultrapure water system to.

For example, the Vertex 50 has the highest 50 nanometer sensitivity on the market, with true 50 nanometer detection. It also sets the industry standards for lowest false count rate while having a record-setting proven clean-up time, so you can get back to work quickly after a particle incident. This particle counter’s sensitivity makes it ideal for highly regulated industries like semiconductor – where even the smallest particle can cause damage.

When it comes to your processes- whether you’re working in pharmaceuticals, technology, food production, a laboratory, or more – you don’t want to mess around with your ultrapure water’s cleanliness. You’re using hundreds of thousands of gallons to do the most for your needs, so you should feel confident in knowing that every single gallon is perfectly clean to your standards.

We recognize finding the perfect particle counter for your ultrapure water system is crucial and difficult. Which is why we have experts standing by to help you figure out which particle counter will best serve you. Want to make sure you’ve got the particle counter that’ll work best for your system? Let us help you today.

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