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EFC’s Innovative Neon Gas Recycling System Advances Sustainability in Semiconductor Manufacturing

Deborah Dailey

The semiconductor industry relies heavily on semiconductor-grade neon as a buffer gas in its ultraviolet lasers, which are crucial for chip fabrication. Neon helps to transfer energy more effectively within the laser, improving its overall efficiency and performance. However, this use of neon has traditionally faced several sustainability challenges, as the supply of high-purity neon is highly vulnerable to global shortages, and its cryogenic distillation from liquid air is energy-intensive with a large carbon footprint.

Neon Gas Recycling System

As a leading supplier of electronic specialty gases, EFC Gases & Advanced Materials has developed an innovative Neon Gas Recycling System that addresses these sustainability challenges. The system captures the spent neon gas from the laser exhausts that are typically vented into the atmosphere. The gas is then reconditioned for use in a new laser gas mix. By recycling this valuable resource, this approach can offer stable neon availability and supply chain continuity, helping to enable better planning and efficiency for businesses.

Recycling neon can also offset the need for its production, having the effect of reducing over one million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per semiconductor fab over the next 20 years, according to EFC. This supports the semiconductor industry’s desire to accelerate its own climate actions by reducing Scope 3 upstream greenhouse gas emissions, as well as contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals by promoting sustainable industrial processes, ensuring responsible consumption and patterns, and reducing GHG emissions.

EFC developed its Neon Gas Recycling System in close collaboration with Cymer, a manufacturer of excimer lasers. Cymer recently certified that the product from the EFC recycling system is fully compatible with its equipment. This joint development illustrates a successful partnership between a chemical company and a manufacturer in advancing sustainability in the semiconductor industry.

In addition to the Neon Gas Recycling System, EFC has developed skid-mounted recovery systems for other rare gases, such as xenon and krypton, used in aerospace applications.

By providing a solution that captures, reconditions, and recycles neon gas, EFC’s innovative Neon Gas Recycling System helps tackle key environmental challenges in semiconductor manufacturing. It reduces the environmental impact of neon production, minimizes resource waste, and drives the industry toward a more sustainable future.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

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