Friday, February 03, 2012

Microbes Munch Chip Waste

Taiwanese researchers come up with a bioreactor that consumes semiconductor manufacturing emissions

Photo: Ching-ping Tseng
MICROBE MACHINE: Bioreactors containing aerobic microbes were tested a semiconductor fab with the aim of reducing volatile organic compounds in the plant's waste stream.

2 February 2012—A Taiwanese research team says it has demonstrated an efficient biological treatment for water-soluble volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from semiconductor and optoelectronic manufacturing processes. This development could offer a more environmentally benign and less costly alternative to today’s expensive methods.

According to the team leader, Ching-Ping Tseng, a professor of biological science and technology at National Chiao Tung University, based in Hsinchu, major pollutants in waste gases emitted from semiconductor manufacturing include water-soluble VOCs, such as acetone, isopropyl alcohol (IPA), and propylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate.

The research team selected aerobic (oxygen-using) microorganisms from local sludge and demonstrated that the microbes could decompose these airborne VOCs, reducing the concentrations of waste gases to levels meeting environmental regulations in Taiwan.