The Waterside - What We Learned in Portland

By Mike Henley


Do reflection and water treatment have anything in common? The humorous answer is: “Of course water reflects light, silly!” And, in the same vein: “Don’t you know that a calm lake or pond will reflect images such as clouds, trees, and mountains????”

But this question refers to another meaning for reflection, which refers to contemplation and deeper thinking. The shared bond of that definition and water treatment is that of taking time to focus on successful water treatment, and then being willing as needed to develop a plan, to learn from mistakes, to make adjustments, or to invest time to expand one’s skills and knowledge.

For the remainder of this commentary, we will pause to consider the last point on personal growth.

Almost two months ago, the UPW Team completed our 2017 UPW conferences in Portland, OR (conducted May 30-June 1). Like in 2016, we co-located the UPW Micro and UPW Pharma events. My colleagues did a great job and deserve recognition for their successful efforts.

So, now we will look at some lessons learned from our 2017 events:


Treatment standards. For those involved in water treatment, there is the desire to have current purity standards and to anticipate future needs. In reality, in different ways both the microelectronics and pharmaceutical industries the treatment standards tend to be reactive. And, in many cases, standards can be based around the existing abilities of treatment equipment—with the caveat of pushing for better results.

In the microelectronics world, equipment suppliers understand that UPW quality needs change as semiconductor device technologies advance. One obvious example is particles.

So, while the goal is to anticipate future industry needs those in the International Roadmap for Devices and Semiconductors (IRDS) who work on the guideline proposals are responding to new needs by semiconductor makers. Examples would include SEMI C79, SEMI C82, or SEMI C89.

In the UPW Micro conference, a presentation given by Dr. Slava Libman of FTD Solutions examined the role of the UPW IRDS and SEMI groups have in working to enable current and future technologies. Other technical presentations and Roundtable topics also looked at particles in microelectronics water.

Meanwhile, on the pharmaceutical water side, water quality standards are often driven for regulatory reasons, not as much by enduser product advancements.

Over the years, there has been a great effort by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), Japanese Pharmacopoeia (JP), and European Pharmacopoeia (EP) water expert groups to ensure that the treatment guidelines are reflective of current technologies. For instance, the use of membranes to produce Water for Injection (WFI), and in the 1990s, the adoption of on-line TOC and conductivity monitoring equipment.

At the same time, the pharmacopeia water expert groups have worked to harmonize the treatment requirements within the EP, JP, and USP so that they are similar and not contradictory in key areas. One very current example is the production of WFI, which once could only be made through the use of distillation technologies. The USP and EP both adopted changes to allow for the option to use of membrane technologies, while for several years, the EP would only permit the use of distillation technologies. This changed in April, and now the EP also allows for the use of distillation. During the UPW Pharma conference, Dr. T.C. Soli of presented a learning session on the changes to the EP and the implications for the pharma and life sciences industries.


Other Lessons

Briefly, we will look at some other issues addressed in UPW Micro and UPW Pharma.


Particles, hydrogen peroxide, water management. Like at recent conferences, particles were the subject of several technical presentations. But, at this year’s conference, several papers examined hydrogen peroxide. We learned about hydrogen peroxide monitoring and removal. A presentation by Dave Buesser and Dr. Boris Eliosov (Employing Biochemistry to Address Semiconductor Industry Environmental Challenges) reviewed the use of a catalase treatment for the removal of hydrogen peroxide in fab waste streams.

In the Water Management track, one presentation looked at how to switch from treating surface water to groundwater because of problems with a supply source. Another presentation examined how to reuse used or surplus treatment equipment and membranes for non-UPW applications.


In UPW Pharma, we learned about the ISPE’s new Good Practice Guide on “Sampling for Pharmaceutical Water, Steam, and Process Gases.” Some other areas we learned about included rapid microbial monitoring, and USP water system cost reduction options.


Pre-conference workshop. This year’s UPW Micro offered training that was geared more toward the needs of plant operators. Those attending were able to learn about RO operation, ion exchange, PVDF piping systems, and cooling water, among other topics.

Those attending also had the opportunity for hands-on training on plastic pipe welding. The demonstration involved the use of a Thermal Fusion Machine used to connect PVDF and other plastics.


Roundtables, exhibitors. Our UPW Micro Roundtables session featured 20 tables. They provided the opportunity to network and to learn from experts involved with UPW and water management.

In addition to the other learning opportunities, delegates could visit with conference sponsors and learn about their products and services to treaters of pharmaceutical and semiconductor water. These discussions with suppliers provided insights into how their products are used, new technologies in development, and a broader view of the markets/global regions served by the companies.


In closing, UPW Micro and UPW Pharma provided delegates multiple opportunities to expand their knowledge in these important industries that use UPW through the technical program, Roundtables, exhibits, and networking. But, perhaps the greatest value came from the learning that will provide food for thought for the coming months.

 — Mike Henley

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