Comprehensive Tools to Assess Environmental Impacts of and Improve the Design of Semiconductor Equipment and ProcessesEPA Grant Number: R831456
Title: Comprehensive Tools to Assess Environmental Impacts of and Improve the Design of Semiconductor Equipment and Processes
Investigators: Dornfeld, David
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
EPA Project Officer: Richards, April
Project Period: December 5, 2003 through December 4, 2006
Project Amount: $324,969
RFA: Technology for a Sustainable Environment (2003) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainability , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development
With rapid growth in the electronics and computer sectors, environmental and health issues associated with semiconductor manufacturing are growing in importance. The high economic value associated with the cost of acquisition, use and disposal of water, energy, chemicals and materials leads to strong incentives to reduce resource use and minimize waste. Additionally, semiconductor manufacturing requires the mobilization of large flows of materials and energy in other industries throughout the economy leading to a wide range of upstream environmental impacts. Also, microchips are used in numerous ways and their contribution to environmental impacts during the use and disposal of electronic products should be quantified. The objective of the proposed research is to develop a comprehensive design for environment (DFE) tool to assess the environmental and health impacts of semiconductor manufacturing and to feed this information back into semiconductor equipment and process development cycles. Another objective of this research is to promote the broader use of this tool to support industrial ecology.
This work will build upon previous research on "bottom-up" semiconductor DFE tools at Berkeley. The tool aims to be comprehensive in terms of (i) scope - by considering upstream life cycle impacts and facilitating integration into downstream environmental assessments of electronics and (ii) metrics - by supporting a wide range of local and global environmental and health metrics. Feedback loops from the tool will be constructed to inform the design of equipment and processes. However, outputs of this analysis could also be used (with varying scope) to inform environmental decision making by regulators, industry suppliers, utilities, etc.
To develop the comprehensive tool proposed here there are several significant intellectual hurdles: what level of detail is required to insure implementation, how can we adequately link upstream life cycle impacts and facilitate downstream environmental assessments of electronics, what local and global environmental metrics are needed (specially for health hazard issues), and can we design the tool to be effective in policy planning by regulators and utilities, for example? Our experience so far with a much reduced scope of effort in EnV-S and our close collaborations with industry and other researchers at Berkeley and elsewhere is expected to help in overcoming these hurdles.
We will attempt to integrate the use of this DFE tool within product development cycles at a leading semiconductor equipment manufacturer and device manufacturer and validate the utility of the tool. In addition to applications within the semiconductor industry and beyond, the tool will also have a strong educational component and will be used in a classroom environment to support the teaching of environmentally conscious manufacturing and industrial ecology.
Estimated Improvement in Risk Assessment or Risk Management That Will Result From Successful Completion of the Work: The tool developed as part of this proposed work will be comprehensive and have a dual impact addressing both industry needs as well as serving as an educational resource for classroom instruction in environmentally conscious design and manufacturing and industrial ecology. The results of this work should establish the feasibility of real, effective design and manufacturing for reduced environmental impact. In addition, classroom use of the tool will help educate future engineers and business leaders to alternative means for insuring efficient, high quality and cost effective manufacturing while insuring a minimum environmental "footprint" of the production process.