Showa Denko has announced that it is to begin producing high purity nitrous oxide (N2O) in Korea to reinforce the supply system of the chemical in the region.

As part of a consignment agreement with Korea industrial gas manufacturer Dooam Industrial, headquartered in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, Showa Denko will jointly set up a purifying plant on the company’s premises near Seoul this year.

It is understood that Showa Denko will start selling the product from 2015. The level of investment has not been revealed, but the production capacity will be around 600 tonnes per year (tpy). As Showa Denko is currently operating a 1,200 tpy plant at Kawasaki, Japan, completion of the new facility will take the company’s total supply capacity to 1,800 tpy.

High purity N2O is used to form oxidizing films for insulation in the chemical vapour deposition process of semiconductor production. There is thought to be a ‘positive trend’ for the expansion of N2O plants in the East Asian countries including mainly China and Korea. The application of this chemical in terms of semiconductor-related demand is growing at a pace of 10-15%.

The scope of its application is also expanding as a substantial volume is consumed as an inert gas for annealing in the forming process of oxidized films to produce polysilicon liquid crystal at a low temperature or oxidized semiconductor for smartphones.

Showa Denko is believed to be planning to enhance profitability in the chemical products segment, including specialty gases for semiconductor  processes, as part of its ongoing medium-term management plan.

Dooam is an industrial gas manufacturer with an annual turnover of ¥420m and is also selling N2O for medical use.