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IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste into Solar Energy

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IBM today announced an innovative new semiconductor wafer reclamation process pioneered at its Burlington, Vermont facility. The new process uses a specialized pattern removal technique to repurpose scrap semiconductor wafers to a form used to manufacture silicon-based solar panels.

Silicon recycling opportunity

IBM estimates that approximately three million silicon wafers worldwide are scrapped each year by the semiconductor industry – representing a significant solar recycling opportunity:

3 million wafers:

  • Stretch for 375 miles if placed end-to-end
  • Cover 22.5 acres of area
  • Weigh 187.5 tons
  • Generate 13.5 megawatts of solar energy
  • Produce 57 million kilowatt hours in solar panels (12-hour day x 365 days)
  • Power 6,000 houses (9,500 kWh per year per house)

Video: IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste into Solar Energy

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News releases
Date Title
30 Oct 2007 IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste into Solar Energy

Images

  • IBM Turns Wafer Waste into Solar Energy

    IBM Turns Wafer Waste into Solar Energy

    Date added: 30 Oct 2007

    Shortage of silicon constrains growth of solar panel industry: IBM has developed a process for repurposing scrap silicon wafers from its chip manufacturing operations for use in energy-producing solar panels. In this photo Michelle Bolz, an IBM manufacturing engineer, holds a solar panel above a crate of scrap silicon wafers ready to be recycled. IBM intends to provide details of the new process to the broader semiconductor manufacturing industry.

  • IBM Turns Wafer Waste into Solar Energy

    IBM Turns Wafer Waste into Solar Energy

    Date added: 30 Oct 2007

    From silicon trash to solar energy: IBM engineers have invented a unique, eco-friendly way to recycle scrap silicon "wafers" -- the base material used for chips in everything from computers to consumer electronics. The new process has dual advantages for the environment, as it will help reduce the estimated 3 million silicon wafers discarded each year across the computer industry, while also providing new supplies of raw materials to the supply-constrained solar energy industry. In this photo James Procopio, an IBM chip manufacturing project manager, holds a semiconductor wafer prior to refurbishment and Michelle Bolz, an IBM manufacturing engineer, displays a solar panel. IBM intends to provide details of the new process to the broader semiconductor manufacturing industry.

  • IBM PIONEERS PROCESS TO TURN WASTE INTO SOLAR ENERGY

    IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste into Solar Energy

    Date added: 30 Oct 2007

    This photo illustrates the patented process of converting IBM built wafers to solar panels. From left, defective wafers are scraped of their proprietary information, resulting in bare, grey silicon wafers. Instead of going to the landfill, they are sold to manufacturers who square them off for reuse as solar panels.

  • IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste into Solar Energy

    IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste into Solar Energy

    Date added: 30 Oct 2007

    The IBM Burlington "trash to cash" team: Dave Domina, Steve Davis, Jamie Hardy, and Jim Procopio. Not available for the photo was Michelle Bolz.


Contact(s) for the Press kit

Bruce McConnel
IBM Media Relations
914.766.4427
203.739.5462 (m)
wmcconn@us.ibm.com

Additional resources

Site links

Video

Web-quality VNR: IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste into Solar Energy. Supers -- Eric White, IBM Process Engineer is the first interviewee and Janet Doyle, IBM Environmental Programs, is the second.

IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste into Solar Energy