The chip industry is looking for alternative materials to coolants since major producer 3M’s announcement of halting production.
Coolants are used in the etching process in chip production to prevent overheating.
Samsung and SK Hynix relied on 3M for the material as it accounted for 90% of the production of the material.
However, 3M announced late last year that it was halting PFAS production by 2025, in response to the European Union’s regulations to halt the production of the material as it is harmful to the environment and humans. Coolants are categorized as PFAS, or a per-and polyfluoroalkyl substance.
3M’s announcement has caused coolant orders to Solvay, the second-largest producer, and Chinese companies to jump, sources said.
But these will be limited as these companies also use PFAS materials to make their coolants, they added.
Hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are rising as alternatives, and South Korean companies FST, GST and Unisem are looking to development them into coolants.
HFO is more expensive than before while CO2 is unstable in high temperatures.
Silicon oil is also being touted as a potential replacement of PFAS coolants. They are non-volatile and long-lasting and can be used in a wider range of temperature than HFO and CO2.
Solvay is also conducting researching and supplying the material. Solvay’s batch of silicon oil coolants has already been sold out earlier this year because Samsung and SK Hynix went into a buying spree.