The market for chillers used in semiconductor production is expected to change racially in the next two to three years.
This is because the world’s largest coolant producer 3M has announced that it will end production by 2025 from environmental regulations.
Chillers are used to absorb heat inside chambers during wafer etching. Different coolants are used depending on how the chipmaker controls the temperature.
Coolants such as those used in refrigerators have been dominantly used as chillers as they are relatively power efficient and can manage the temperature in a wide range.
But the recent moves by countries to enforce stricter regulation to protect the environment has raised concern about the use of coolants, which can become pollutants.
US company 3M dominates the chip coolant market with up to 90% market share; the second-largest producer is Belgian firm Solvay.
In March, the Belgium government ordered 3M to halt the operation of its coolant factory in Flanders as it failed to meet the upped PFAS emission standard.
PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are used to make coolants and is known to be harmful to the environment.
Initially, 3M attempted to find a solution to use less PFAS but late last year announced that it would end the production of PFAS entirely by the end of 2025.
South Korean chipmakers Samsung and SK Hynix had so far relied heavily on the coolant supply from 3M for their chip production.
They are expected to find alternative solutions such as using electric chillers that use fewer coolants than refrigerator-like chillers, sources said.
Gas chillers that do away with coolants entirely will also be considered, they added.