Solvay and partners unveil ecoFluor project to cut emissions in semiconductor industry

By Liz Gyekye
Published: Monday, 21 December 2015

Belgian group to work with US and German experts on product that aims to reduce pollution from CVD chambers.

Belgian chemical giant Solvay SA has teamed up with US-based semiconductor company, Texas In-struments Inc. and German technology specialist, Muegge and Fraunhofer EMFT, to launch a range of fluorine-based products to reduce harm-ful gases released by thin film tools used during the production of semi-conductors. 

The three-year project will focus on new cleaning processes for chemical vapour deposition (CVD) chambers and replaces the three major cleaning gases, hexafluoroethane (C2F6), tetrafluoromethane (CF4) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), with gas mixtures based on fluorine (F2), nitrogen (N2) and argon (Ar) mixtures.

Semiconductors are used in a variety of products, including mobile phones, cars, laptops and tablet PCs.

"EcoFluor’s cleaner alternative will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will moreover improve the process efficiency for the users," said Rodrigo Elizondo, commercial director at Solvay’s Spec-
ial Chem business unit. "We will produce these F2 gas mixtures in our plants in Bad Wimpfen, Germany and Onsan, Korea," he added.

The project is partly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF) and will start on 1 January.

The move by Solvay to introduce these new products was announced in December as the COP21 climate change talks in Paris were nearing their conclusion.

A Solvay spokesperson told IM: "This project helps to achieve the targets of COP21 through avoiding further increases of climate relevant gases like NF3, C2F6 and CF4."