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Semiconductor industry turns to Munters to clean exhaust air

Jun 12, 2024

When a manufacturer of semiconductors in the US aimed to boost its production capacity, it turned to its partner Munters. Increased production results in a higher volume of exhaust air requiring cleaning before release, and Munters provides one of the most effective systems on the market.

The semiconductor industry generates significant amounts of exhaust air during chip manufacturing. Because most fabrication plants, also known as fabs, are in, or near, residential areas, there are strict requirements on how much polluted air they can emit.

Vast experience from VOC

Munters has been helping the semiconductor industry clean air polluted by VOCs since the 1980s, establishing ourself as an expert in the field.

VOCs are found in everyday products such as perfumes and household cleaning agents and normally can be discerned by an odor. Some VOCs occur naturally, while others are manmade.

When industrial processes, such as chip production, exhaust large amounts of polluted air, untreated VOCs react with nitrogen oxides and sunlight, creating low-level ozone or smog, which can lead to various health and respiratory problems.

The conventional approach to VOC removal involves burning a large volume of air in a large thermal oxidizer at temperatures as high as 700° Celsius. This requires significant energy usage, which becomes a large cost considering that industrial processes operate continuously, 24/7 throughout the year.

Large capacity and low energy usage

What sets Munters apart from competition is its ability to remove and concentrate VOCs from a large exhaust airstream into a smaller slipstream of air, thanks to its unique Zeolite Rotor System. The concentrated slipstream is sent to a thermal oxidizer, which is 20 to 30 times smaller than the conventional oxidizer, for post-treatment. This results in a significant reduction in energy usage.

Scott Gagliostro, Sales Manager for Clean Technologies, illustrates the advantage of the technology by giving an example of a recent installation at a customers factory in the US.

“At their site, we take 34,000 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) of VOC laden exhaust air and concentrate it down to 2,000 SCFM, which we treat with a small oxidizer. In other words, we only incinerate a fraction of the air compared to alternative technologies.”

This not only leaves the manufacturer with 95 percent cleaner exhaust air. It also drastically reduces their production costs. In total, each fab saves 66 percent per year by using Munters’ system compared to alternative technologies.

High reliability

Another advantage of Munters’ system is its reliability.

“Our system is designed for one or two days of downtime per year for routine maintenance,” Gagliostro notes. “It exhibits minimal pressure fluctuations, a crucial aspect to semiconductor manufactrurers, whose tooling is highly sensitive to pressure changes.”

Committed to service

The advantages of Munters’ system have resulted in many contracts over the years, particularly in the US.

“The semiconductor industry know our technology well,” says Gagliostro. “We have many installations at different fabs, and, besides our high-performing products, much of our success can be attributed to our commitment to service. We provide what our customers need and offer support even after the units are installed, and that holds significant value for them.”

Learn more about our clean technologies portfolio here.

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