Semiconductor industry agrees to cut greenhouse gas emissions

The leading trade association of the computer chip manufacturing industry in the US, which represents 90% of the industry, has signed an agreement to cut emissions of one of the most powerful global warming gases.

The new voluntary agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) on behalf of 21 semiconductor manufacturers, is for a cut in emissions of perflourocompounds, the most potent and persistent of all global warming gases by 10% from 1995 levels by the end of 2010. The agreement includes perflourocarbons, hydroflourocarbons and sulphur hexaflouride, which have, on average, 10,000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over 100 years, and can persist in the atmosphere for 2,000 to 50,000 years, according to the EPA.

“The semiconductor industry has a long standing commitment to the environment, and this partnership is one of many proactive approaches that we take to ensure a clean environment,” stated George Scalise, President of the SIA. “We are pleased to be working with the USEPA on this important issue.”

According to the SIA, the use of perfluorocompounds is critical to current semiconductor manufacturing methods and it has been recognised that reducing emissions is a formidable technical challenge. “Different companies will have different strategies available to them,” an EPA spokesperson explained to edie. There are a number of alternatives, including using less or alternative chemicals, and recapture and recycle. Abatement is the least popular solution as it involves burning off emissions, and is highly energy intensive.

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