An Overview Of UPW Users: Treatment Technologies and Purified Water Applications

By Mike Henley


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Is all ultrapure water (UPW) created equal? Or, is it different, based on the enduse? These are questions we will examine in this article.

UPW is a small segment of the larger water market that includes desalination, municipal water and wastewater, industrial water and wastewater, and treated water used for food and beverage, cooling (HVAC and process), mining, oil and gas exploration, refining, and petrochemical. This article will focus on UPW. We will first examine the different UPW endusers. Then, we will examine common treatment technologies found in each area. In separate articles we will delve into the four primary industry segments commonly associated with UPW and the characteristics of the purified water they use.. 

One way to view UPW is by the endusers. Figure 1 provides a snapshot of the UPW world. The umbrella in the figure represents the overall UPW category. Underneath it are the industrial groupings that commonly use UPW: Microelectronics, Pharmaceuticals/Life Sciences, Power Generation, and Specialty Applications. It should be noted that each industry’s definition and method to produce UPW is not the same. For example, UPW that would work in a power station is likely unacceptable in a Life Sciences facility. And, pharmaceutical water would not meet the standards for microelectronics water. In our overview, we will examine the differing definitions as well as some of the principal uses by each category.

As we consider UPW, it is appropriate to consider how one might define this grade of water. The opening sentence from the “Ultrapure Water” entry in Wikipedia (1) offers a good start. It says simply: Ultrapure water (also UPW or high-purity water) is water that has been purified to uncommonly stringent specifications. Reference 1 offers important background information about UPW. It was developed by a team of experts in the use of UPW.

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