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IBM Recycles Silicon

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Recycled waste silicon from IBM’s chip manufacturing processes will soon be finding its way into solar panels.

A new process in IBM’s Vermont factory enables it to refurbish scrap semiconductor wafers to a standard where they can be reused in-house, and subsequently ‘retired’ to be sold on for use in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells.

Up to 3.3% of the 250,000 wafers used by the semiconductor industry each day are scrapped, approximately 3 million each year. Most are crushed and sent to landfills, or melted down and resold, because they contain intellectual property which makes them unsuitable for processing by third-party recycling companies.

IBM says the wafer reclamation process generates energy savings of up to 90% by reducing the demand for new wafers to meet manufacturing needs. When wafers reach end of life they are sold to the solar industry. Solar cell manufacturers could save between 30% and 90% of the energy required if they had used a new silicon material source.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution article

Process details (geeks only)

IBM press release

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Written by Pete Smith

November 15, 2007 at 11:43 am

One Response

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  1. […] a good job someone’s looking at increasing the supply of silicon for the solar industry (“IBM Recycles Silicon”) . In his article “Profit from the End of Cheap Oil“, Ian Cooper describes how the […]


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