Bechtel is aiming to capitalize on rising prospects for what it terms the “next generation of manufacturing” by setting up a new business unit that targets sectors such as semiconductors, synthetic materials, data centers and products and facilities related to electric vehicles.

The new Manufacturing and Technology business unit, which the engineering and construction giant announced on April 12, “will design, build and integrate the complex components that make up these facilities and deliver solutions quickly to market,” Brendan Bechtel, company chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Bechtel has named Catherine Hunt Ryan, a 15-year firm veteran who was chief financial officer, as president of the new business.

Semiconductor fabrication facilities, also known as fabs, have become a hot market, as short supplies of chips have slowed production of products in industries such as automobiles and personal computers.

Several major fabs have been announced in recent months, including two large faciliies announced by Intel in January to be built in the Columbus, Ohio, area. That follows two Intel fabs for which ground was broken last September in Arizona. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. broke ground on a fab in north Phoenix at about the same time.

More financial fuel for fabs could be on its way through legislation pending in Congress that would provide $52 billion in aid for semiconductor facilities. The Senate and House have cleared differing versions of the measure. The next step is negotiations to work out a compromise final version.

In another Bechtel target sector, major automakers have been investing heavily in electric vehicles. That market sector received a boost in last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included $7.5 billion over five years to build a nationwide network of charging stations.

Justin Britt, a general manager at Bechtel Manufacturing and Technology says that the synthetic materials that the company is focusing on are those that "are needed for energy transition."

Britt said in comments emailed to ENR, "We hope to work with a range of customers—from start-ups looking to bring their new material to scale, to existing material providers expanding production."

He added, "These synthetic materials include, but aren't limited to, new battery technologies/chemistries (solid--state, graphene, lithium-sulfur, etc.), synthetic silicon and different nanofibers."

Of the segments the new Bechtel business unit is targeting, it is perhaps most established in data centers, the firm says, noting work on projects in that field for more than 20 years. More recently data and communications companies are seeking to power their data centers in an environmentally sustainable way, the company said. 

The new business unit would join several other established entities at Bechtel, which include energy, infrastructure, environmental cleanup and mining and metals.

Story updated on 4/15/2022 with more details from Bechtel regarding the synthetic materials sector.