In a press release issued today, IBM announced that it has developed an innovative new process to reclaim scrap semiconductor wafers and turn them into a form usable to make silicon based solar panels. Since there currently exists a shortage of the silicon used to create solar panels, any news that would increase the amount of silicon available to manufacture solar panels is very welcome. IBM’s new process was recently awarded the “2007 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award” from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable.
“The new wafer reclamation process produces monitor wafers from scrap product wafers – generating an overall energy savings of up to 90% because repurposing scrap means that IBM no longer has to procure the usual volume of net new wafers to meet manufacturing needs. When monitors wafers reach end of life they are sold to the solar industry. Depending on how a specific solar cell manufacturer chooses to process a batch of reclaimed wafers – they could save between 30 – 90% of the energy that they would have needed if they’d used a new silicon material source. These estimated energy savings translate into an overall reduction of the carbon footprint — the measure of the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full life cycle of a product or service — for both the Semiconductor and Solar industries.”