In early March, the Belgian Council of State (the equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court) ordered the shutdown of a 3M plant that produces coolant essential to semiconductor manufacturing, according to published reports. Meanwhile, several European countries are pushing for tighter regulations on polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals.
The 3M plant was responsible for about 80% of specialized coolants (3M Fluorinert and 3M Novec) used by semiconductor manufacturers worldwide, according to supply chain analyst Resilinc. The byproduct of these coolants, according to Resilinc, are PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals” because of how long they can persist in water and soil.
Aside from its use in critical semiconductor manufacturing processes, in recent years Novec has gained popularity as a primary coolant for Two-Phase Immersion cooling, where large tanks of dielectric liquid are used to immerse low-to-medium powered servers, bitcoin miners, and IT equipment. It has yet to be seen what impacts the near-term shortage and potential disruptions will have on this still emerging technology.
The use of Novec and similar refrigerants in semiconductor manufacturing process continue to gain attention as countries around the world are looking to eliminate the use of certain refrigerants across manufacturing, HVAC, and industrial processes.
It highlights not only the supply chain impacts companies may face but also the pressure to improve Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance.
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