Semiconductor fabs use significantly less energy today, but work remains

June 5, 2012 — Semiconductor manufacturing facilities dramatically decreased their normalized fab energy consumption from 1997 to 2011, shows The International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) Worldwide Fab Energy Study.

Compiling data from 300mm and 200mm semiconductor fabs in Asia, North America, and Europe, the study provides benchmark data to help identify the areas to reduce energy use and improve efficiency in semiconductor manufacturing operations. The study began in 1997.

Process equipment consumes more than 50% of energy in a fab, found ISMI’s Environment, Safety and Health (ESH) Center researchers. Energy efficiency in this area improved, halved in the study time period. Non-process equipment energy consumption has become one-fourth of the 1997 values. The next highest energy users were central chiller plants and bulk gas production. Waste heat recovery and reuse practices were benchmarked for best-in-class performance.

To explore bulk-gas production energy-use reduction, ISMI initiated a workshop in collaboration with experts at member companies. The participants benchmarked best-in-class metrics and reviewed best-in-class design practices for nitrogen plants, specifically focusing on air compressors, which consume up to 85% of the bulk gas energy budget.

Based on the energy survey results, ISMI will focus its efforts to further enable effective energy savings in four identified areas: nitrogen system efficiency and total consumption reduction, Controlled Dry Air (CDA) system efficiency and total consumption reduction, process cooling water system efficiency, and process vacuum system efficiency.

The energy study provides direction for ISMI’s energy-use reduction activities, said Sanjay Rajguru, director of ISMI. Rajguru called energy-efficiency and conservation “critical” for semiconductor manufacturers. ISMI is also working to reduce water and chemical usage.

ISMI members can access energy reports:

  • Enabling and using the “idle” mode in vacuum pumps
  • Optimizing exhaust flows on tools
  • Lowering cleanroom airflow through HEPA filters
  • Measuring key tools to optimize heat removal

ISMI’s ESH Center is dedicated to addressing the energy and resource conservation needs of the semiconductor industry. To help drive the move towards more efficient operations, the ESH Center is focusing on global regulatory challenges, emerging approaches for resource conservation in existing and next generation manufacturing facilities, and unique ESH requirements and solutions for the next generation of semiconductor manufacturing processes and facilities.

To learn more about ISMI’s ESH Technology Center visit, ismi.sematech.org/research/esh.

SEMATECH is an international consortium of leading semiconductor device, equipment, and materials manufacturers. Learn more at this year celebrates 25 years of excellence in accelerating the commercialization of technology innovations into manufacturing solutions. Through our unwavering commitment to foster collaboration across the nanoelectronics industry, we help our members and partners address critical industry transitions, drive technical consensus, pull research into the industry mainstream, improve manufacturing productivity, and reduce risk and time to market. Information about SEMATECH can be found at www.sematech.org.

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