Last Updated on October 23, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image source Freepik
Semiconductor manufacturing is attributed to 31% of the global emission. This includes the manufacturing of the semiconductor parts. The sad bit is this trend is likely to go up over the years unless some drastic measures are taken to avert the situation.
Going by the data from the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP), there is a lot to be concerned about with regards to the impact of electronic components manufacturing to the environment. The report from the organization gives detailed data from different manufacturing facilities that specialize on semiconductor parts. It highlights the toxic gases and chemical vapors that come out of such industries.
I this article, we are going to a complete breakdown of the impact of semiconductor parts manufacturing on the environment.
High energy consumption during manufacturing
There is a lot that takes place during the manufacturing of the semiconductor parts. Raw materials for the components have to be collected, prepared, fabricated, manufactured, stored among many other activities.
All these processes are energy-consuming.
According to a study, the energy consumption in the semiconductor industry will double by the year 2030.
A good percentage of this energy consumption in the industry is through the manufacturing of the semiconductor parts.
How does the high energy consumption affect the environment? You may ask.
To answer this, you have to know the source of energy used in the manufacturing of the semiconductor parts.
Most of this energy is derived from the fossil fuels, which can easily get depleted.
From another angle, the generation of energy by the fossil fuels can also cause environmental degradation.
Destruction of the natural resources
Natural resources are part of the environment or ecosystem. The manufacturing of the semiconductor parts may entail using and exploitation of the natural resources.
Probably you are wondering which natural resources are these.
To get the answer, take a close look at the materials used for making the semiconductor parts. Most of them are metal and they have to be mined from their natural sources.
The process of mining minerals such as copper, cobalt, nickel and many other precious metals usually has negative impact to the environment. The vegetation cover has to be interrupted and the area is likely to be affected by soil erosion. The use of machinery in mining areas is also likely to cause air pollution.
Water is another natural resource that is directly affected by the manufacturing of the semiconductor parts. Water is used for different purposes in the manufacturing of the parts such as cleaning the components and cooling the machines.These manufacturing plants tend to consume significant volume of water during the production process.
Waste generation during manufacturing of parts
As the semiconductor parts are produced, there is a subsequent generation of waste materials. The waste materials include metal remains, plastics, toxic chemicals, used water, toxic gases, and even the electronic waste.
While there is no problem with the generation of waste, the main issue is poor waste management. Most manufacturers don’t dispose this waste properly and it always ends up being exposed to the public.
Most waste generated during the manufacturing of semiconductors parts have negative effects to the environment.
Global Warming Potential gas emissions
An array of GWP gases are used in the manufacturing of the semiconductor parts. CO2 is the most common gas that is considered a major threat to the global warming.Most of these gases contain the fluorinated compounds such as nitrogen trifluoride, nitrous oxide, among others.
These GWP gases have to be used for various purposes in the production of the chip parts. The fact that they have to be released to the environment means that they are great potential hazards.
Also, each type of gas used has a specific role that it plays towards the degradation of the environment.
Away from the greenhouse gases, we have other gases that are produced during the chip parts manufacturing and are highly toxic to the human beings, animals and environment in general. Sulfur dioxide is one of such gases.
The high manufacturing rate of the chip components is not making things any better. Semiconductor chips are important in the growth of technology, this piles pressure on the chip component manufacturers to double up their efforts. They have to produce large volumes of parts delivered.
As the production rates of semiconductor parts production keeps going up, we should expect a steady rise of the GWP gases from the production facilities.
Global efforts to reduce the impact of semiconductor parts manufacturing to the ecosystem
The topic of environmental degradation has always been addressed at the global level. Even when the damage is caused by the semiconductor chip manufacturing.
The efforts started way back in 1992 with the Kyoto protocol and are still ongoing. Up to the last CoP-27 conference that took place in November 2022 in Egypt, approximately 3000 laws have been enacted in relation to the environmental pollution.
Many countries have committed to implement these rules and policies. Up to the CoP-27, 2,203 policies are designed to address the toxic gas emssions. Some of these emissions are due to the manufacturing of the semiconductor parts.
Similarly, the UN Sustainable Development Goals strive to address the issue of proper usage of the resources. Theresources include water and energy, two of the most consumed resources in the manufacturing of the chip parts.
From this article, it is clear that there are many negative effects of the semiconductor parts manufacturing to the environment. This is despite the fact that these parts still play important roles in the revolution of the semiconductor chip technology.
While the negative effects are felt worldwide, there are some positive news to this. Various measures are being taken to avert the impact of the chip component manufacturing to the ecosystem.
Both the governments and private organizations are joining hands to reduce the impact to the environment.
While the impact may not be instant, we should expect that in the coming years, the pollution stemming from the semiconductor parts will be less minimal.
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