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Sematech launches green tech centre

Posted: 29 Jan 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:energy consumption  fab equipment  green technology  IC production 

Responding to environment and fab costs concerns, International Sematech has unveiled a new green technology centre.

Part of chip-making consortium Sematech, the International Sematech Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) hopes to get wide support for the centre. But some wonder what's taking the industry so long to embrace or jump on the green bandwagon.

ISMI's Environment, Safety & Health (ESH) Technology Center, to be based in Austin, Texas, will be dedicated to develop green technology solutions for IC production. The goal is to reduce energy consumption, lower costs, and boost productivity in semiconductor manufacturing.

In addition to the current ISMI members, the centre is open to all chip makers and equipment and materials manufacturers.

''Given the global environmental challenges we face, we believe there is nothing more important than energy and resource conservation,'' said Scott Kramer, vice president of manufacturing technology at ISMI.

Sematech declined to comment on the funding for the program. Initially, the centre will have fewer than 10 employees, but ISMI is expected to expand the effort over time, Kramer said.

The new centre will drive and consolidate other ESH programs from Sematech. They include the promotion of energy and resource conservation through technical evaluations and demonstrations. It will propel the development of advance green semiconductor operations and processes. It will also provide forums for sharing ESH benchmark data, surveys, and best practices.

The time is ripe for green technology for fabs. Past projects have demonstrated 10-to-20 per cent utility reductions by adopting best practices in ultrapure water recycle/reclaim and cleanroom HVAC optimisation, according to Sematech.

This represents the latest effort by Sematech to address the green issue. And it appears that many of these efforts are still getting off the ground—or have flopped.

For some time, Sematech and others have talked about the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. This is a comprehensive design and assessment tool that helps architecture, engineering and construction professionals improve building efficiency and measure the sustainability of their projects.

In 2007, ISMI agreed to draft a ''green fab standard'' aimed at building semiconductor factories that will use less energy and water, minimise waste and air pollution, and ultimately save money for chip makers.

ISMI members compiled a set of best practices and tactics for conserving energy in current factories, using activities as simple as turning down tool exhaust fans, and as complex as writing software to automatically control equipment pumps. Potential cost reductions from these refinements are significant: a typical fab can save at least Rs.50.04 lakh ($100,000) per year for each 1 per cent reduction in energy consumption.

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