MUNICH, GERMANY: Driving the industry to shift focus from Grid Parity to Green Parity and pushing for sustainable electronics manufacturing, Linde Gases, a division of The Linde Group, announced that it has enabled customers to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by a quarter of a million tons in 2010 by switching to on-site generated fluorine (F2) from nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). This is the same amount of CO2 produced by over 125,000 mid-size cars annually.
Prominent manufacturers of photovoltaics, semiconductor and TFT-LCD devices as well as research sectors are adopting Linde’s on-site fluorine generators as a more productive and energy-efficient alternative to the use of the greenhouse gas NF3 and other PFC (Per-Fluoro-Compound) gases for the cleaning of CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition) chambers.
In 2009, Linde’s on-site fluorine was successfully tested on all the major thin-film PV OEM platforms, and Malibu and Masdar PV were among the first to announce adoption of on-site F2 as the cleaning gas of choice to manufacture large-scale PV modules – eliminating the use of NF3. Production systems for these two customers have been delivered and the elimination of NF3 from the process has begun.
“Fluorine offers the rare combination of sustainable solar module production and profitability by removing any risk of unabated emissions, reducing non-productive cleaning time and improving throughput,” says Ian Travis, Global Product Manager Fluorine for Linde Gases Division.
Interest in on-site fluorine is also growing across all sectors of the electronics industry. LG Display in Korea has benefitted from the obvious parallels between thin film solar and TFT-LCD display manufacturing, increasing the capacity of on-site fluorine generation by 20 percent in 2009 to match growth in demand for its LCD panels. To support Korea’s growth as the manufacturing hub for TFT-LCDs, Linde is making a significant investment in its F2 manufacturing infrastructure at its Inju plant.
Last year, Europe’s first on-site fluorine generators were installed at STMicroelectronics’ Crolles 300mm wafer fabrication plant in France as part of the company’s initiative to lower the environmental impact of producing semiconductors by eliminating high pressure cylinder deliveries.
A major Japanese semiconductor manufacturer has also recently chosen to replace their high-pressure cylinder supply of F2 with on-site generated F2 at their 300mm fab – reaping advantages of improved safety and lower costs. The on-site approach is also particularly suitable for locations where import and distribution networks for certain electronic materials are not as mature as in other regions. To overcome such challenges, the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences installed its first on-site F2 generator in 2009.
“Environmental concerns continue to dominate the global agenda, and the manufacturing ecosystem as a whole needs to start channelling its efforts towards reducing carbon emissions,” said Dean O’Connor, Head of Market Development & Technology at Linde Gases Division.
“Collaboration with industry leaders in photovoltaics, semiconductors, flat panel displays and academia is testament to Linde’s commitment to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.”