Semiconductor gases bounce back, wet chemicals on their way

June 30, 2011 — Semiconductor wet chemicals saw 13% growth year-over-year in 2010, while the electronics fab gasses market grew 16%, according to 2 new reports on semiconductor manufacturing materials from Techcet Group: Wet Chemicals for Semiconductor Device Processing 2011, A Techcet Group Critical Materials Report and Gases for Semiconductor Device Processing 2011, A Techcet Group Critical Materials Report. Gases bounced back faster from the recent recession due to consumer spending habits, buying new TVs instead of taking expensive vacations.

Semiconductor wet chemicals include acids, bases and solvents, and totaled $850M in 2010. Wet chemicals will grow 6% in 2011, not hitting the high mark of $968 million (last seen in 2008) until 2013. By 2015, semiconductor wet chemicals will top the billion dollar mark, hitting about $1.08 billion, Techcet predicts.

9 major players operate in the wet wafer fab sector, each with 5%+ market share. BASF dominates Europe and China; Kanto leads Japan; KMG is expected to have 50%+ market share in the US, after acquiring General Chemical in Q1 2010. Mitsubishi’s production of hydrogen peroxide in Japan, disrupted by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is expected to be back to full capacity this month. China’s restrictions on fluorspar and phosphor mineral exports continue to put pressure on hydrofluoric and phosphoric acid manufacturers, while rising petroleum prices are increasing the cost of solvents and polyethylene containers.

While the US consumes only 14% of electronic wet chemicals (4th largest globally behind Japan, Taiwan, Korea), it spends more than Taiwan and Korea due to price pressure in Asia and US demand for higher-performance chemicals needed for leading-edge technologies.

In addition to market analysis, technical trends, critical supply chain issues and
EH&S activities, the report includes profiles and updates for 16 major chemical suppliers to the global semiconductor industry.

Gasses used for semiconductor assembly closely followed the path of silicon wafer consumption in recent years, following the same track during the 2009 recession.

Overall gas revenues are back to 2008 levels. Electronics gases as a whole reached a $2.74 billion market in 2010, up 16% from 2009. The 2011 outlook is for 11% growth overall, with the electronic specialty gases segment leading the way with 12% growth to $1.9 billion. Techcet sees the combined electronic gases market topping $4 billion by 2015.

Bulk gases, which do not track closely with wafers due to usage volumes, saw 55% growth in 2009, led by consumers buying thin film transistor (TFT)-based displays. Vigorous growth in bulk gases is expected to continue with projections of annual market expansions of 10% for ICs and TFTs, 8.5% for LEDs and 24% for PV over the next several years.

Air Products, Taiyo Nippon Sanso and Air Liquide each claim just under a quarter of the electronics gasses market, followed by Praxair, BOC/Linde, OCI and others.


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