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New Product: PoU abatement system from TecHarmonic reaches 95 percent DRE

29 June 2006 | By Mark Osborne | Product Briefings > EHS

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TecHarmonicProduct Briefing Outline: TecHarmonic Inc. has launched the Alpine-S, claiming that it is the industry's first and only point-of-use (PoU) gas abatement system with the capability to abate all process and perfluorocompound (PFC) gas emissions with destruction and removal efficiencies (DRE) well over 95 percent for both chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and etch applications.


Problem: The World Semiconductor Council's Agreement on PFC Emission reduction targets from semiconductor manufacturing facilities imposes stringent new performance requirements for new generation gas abatement systems especially for CVD chamber-cleaning gases, which typically account for more than 80 percent of GWG emissions from today's semiconductor industry. Today, the most common abatement tools burn methane to heat and break down hazardous gases - an inefficient method to generate energy that actually produces additional GWGs. These tools are grounded in old legacy technologies that carry multiple liabilities. Firstly, methane is inherently explosive—a danger that poses grave concern to safety-conscious fab personnel and causes some local governments and major IC manufactures to prohibit their use for abatement. Secondly, most methane burners installed today are unable to reach the temperatures required to abate the most stable PFCs, thereby forcing chipmakers to modify the systems so that they can reach the higher temperature by burning methane in oxygen. However, the increased fuel consumption associated with this method, coupled with the reduced lifetime of the heater and other consumables at elevated temperatures, makes the cost of operation prohibitively high.

Solution: In contrast, the Alpine-S is powered by electric heaters that completely eliminate the use of methane. The system is geared to exceed the new performance requirements associated with the removal of acidic, pyrophoric, volatile organic compounds and global warming gases from all CVD and etch processes. The Alpine-S's flameless electrically heated catalytic decomposition reactor achieves DRE's operating in the range of 850 to 950 degrees Celsius which contrasts sharply with competitive methane burners that must reach a highly volatile temperature of 1400 degrees Celsius in order to abate the stable GWGs.

Applications: Abates all process and perfluorocompound (PFC) gas emissions from CVD tools.

Platform: The tool is claimed to outlast the preventive maintenance (PM) cycles of the etch and chemical vapor deposition tools it services, thereby avoiding process tool downtime due to unexpected clogging in the gas abatement system. PM cycles are up to 10 times longer than competitive abatement systems on tough CVD applications. The Alpine-S can accommodate a gas volume of up to 50 percent higher than competitive systems, which substantially reduces the overall cost of ownership, according to the company.

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