HVAC Equipment for the Semiconductor Industry

It’s important that engineers in the semiconductor industry have access to specialized HVAC equipment that meets the bleeding edge demand in the field. All aspects of the semiconductor & electronic manufacturing industry require specialized ventilation equipment to maintain productive efficiency.

In this article the challenges with both fab and fabless semiconductor facilities will be discussed (fab is short for fabrication). A number of HVAC equipment that is necessary for both types of facilities and their purpose in the applications in order to overcome challenges in the chip manufacturing industry.

There are many aspects to the complex nature of semiconductors. From when they are designed until they are packaged and marketed. This article focuses on ventilation equipment for fabless and fab facilities.

There are many factors at play when designing a proper HVAC system for the semiconductor industry, such as, but limited to:

It’s important to understand these factors before making any final decisions about the facility’s ventilation needs. Specialized equipment requirements, cleanrooms, facilities, number of staff members, productive output and many other important variables must be considered when designing a ventilation system.

Table of Contents

Contact us now for a free quote

We’ll be happy to help explain which model and make is best for your application.

Types of Facilities in the Semiconductor Industry

HVAC systems vary depending on the type of facility. There are 2 main types of facilities:

fabless hvac equipmentA fabless manufacturing company designs chips and other electronic parts. They outsource their designs to a 3rd party semiconductor foundry. Fabless companies design the architecture of the wafer or electronic chip. It is common practice for fabless companies to market the final product as well.

Both types of semiconductor facilities have several challenges regarding HVAC equipment and indoor air quality. That being said, their challenges are much different and require different ventilation equipment.

Electronics Manufacturer

Electronic manufacturing companies focus on PCB (Printed Circuit Board) assembly. This is where airborne molecular contamination (AMC) presents a challenge to electronic manufactures in smaller facilities than foundries.

Printed circuit board assembly or PCBA consists of mechanical support electronic appliances that plays a vital role in connecting electrical conduits. PCBA consists of pads, conductive tracks and various other similar specifications etched from numerous copper laminated non-conductive substrate sheet layers.

When etching circuit boards, ventilation equipment such as mist collectors are required to keep the indoor air quality in check. Filtering acids, bases and organics is also a priority that is met by implementing proper filters.

Fabless Manufacturing Ventilation Challenges

Fabless manufacturers require commercial ventilation equipment in their facilities similar to the HVAC equipment found in most commercial offices. Since staff is indoors, air quality is paramount and effective ventilation determines the air quality of the facility.

Keeping employees and staff comfortable, as well as maintaining proper temperature to run fabless manufacturing equipment is also vital. Some of the common in indoor air quality issues in fabless manufacturing issues are:

Energy consumption should also be considered. With HVAC equipment running 24/7 the proper ventilation equipment must also be energy efficient. There is HVAC equipment that is suited for such industries.

A trained specialist will provide proper consultation on the HVAC equipment requirements.

Keeping employees and staff comfortable, as well as maintaining proper temperature to run fabless manufacturing equipment is also vital. Some of the common in indoor air quality issues in fabless manufacturing issues are:

HVAC Equipment for Fabless Manufacturing

To address fabless manufacturing HVAC challenges industrial ventilation equipment is required. The ventilation system is important, however it depends on the building structure and location. 

There are 3 main types of ventilation systems:

The most energy efficient of the three types of ventilation systems is a natural ventilation system. That being said, environmental factors, equipment tolerance, and building structure all play a critical role if natural ventilation for fabless manufacturing is an ideal choice.

Mixed-mode ventilation uses a combination of natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation. Mechanical ventilation equipment would be used if the aforementioned issues with natural ventilation prevented an optimal indoor environment from being achieved.

Common HVAC equipment necessary in fabless manufacturing facility include, but not limited to:

Exhaust fans

Industrial grade exhaust fans provide mechanical air flow through the building. Roof exhaust fans force stale air out of a fabless building. Wall panel exhaust fans can also be implemented to keep equipment cool and control humidity.

Ductwork

Proper ductwork is imperative to every fabless manufacturing facility. Inline fans within the ductwork assists in moving air.

UV-C light

Due to contaminants in buildings, UV-C lights in HVAC systems of fabless manufacturing companies are necessary for several reasons. UV-C lights kill viruses and prevent mold spores in difficult to reach areas. If air is recirculated then UV-C light kills contaminates beforehand.

Semiconductor Air Filters

To increase indoor air quality, HEPA & ULPA filters, as well as other industry standard filters, can be installed to reduce such pollutants amd molecular concentrations to ISO class 1 levels. Filters work in tandem with UV-C lights to create the best possible indoor air quality for the semiconductor industry.

Make Up Air Unit

With exhaust fans pushing circulating air out, make-up air units in fabless facilities help push fresh air in while controlling indoor pressure. A proper make up air unit facilitates increased efficiency of the complete HVAC system, which in turn reduces overall cost.

Learn about the 5 issue a make up air unit can fix.

Air Curtains for the Semiconductor Industry

Separating areas in a fabless company may be necessary, especially in the front door. Depending on the location, the main entrance may open often. This causes dust and other contaminants to enter. Furthermore, tempered air inside the building is able to escape. Air curtains in fabless manufacturing facilities would prevent these occurrences.

Heating Equipment

During the winter months, special heating equipment is necessary to maintain a comfortable working environment.

Natural Ventilation

Energy consumption is a key factor when implementing a ventilation system for a fabless manufacturer. Therefore, speaking with an engineer to see if natural ventilation could be a solution to reduce energy costs is recommended.

Foundry Ventilation Challenges

air curtain cleanroomFoundries strive to achieve bleeding edge technology to manufacture microchips (also called a chip, a computer chip, an integrated circuit or IC). There are thousands of steps when manufacturing a chip. In every step, ventilation, filtration and other environmental factors are carefully monitored.

Microchips are extremely sensitive. If a particle of dust contaminates a wafer then the chip is rendered useless. Fab chipmakers have “ISO 1” class cleanrooms that contain, “Zero Dust”. A single particle can be no larger than 200 nm. Ten (10) particles between 100 and 200 nm in size can not contaminate 1 cubic meter of air. 

To help quantify the cleanliness of an ISO 1 cleanroom, consider a hospital has 10,000 contaminates per 1 cubic meter. If even the smallest particle of dust or other foreign material ends up on the wafer, it can ruin the microchip, therefore chip makers are careful to keep their fabs clean.

Indoor Air Quality

A larger concern with both fab and fabless semiconductor manufacturing facilities is indoor air quality. Ventilation equipment’s only intent is not eliminating contaminates and particles, but also controlling and limiting VOC (volatile organic compounds), RH (relative humidity), and oxygen. The foundry and the technology implemented within determines the level of emissions, VOC and exhaust air volume.

An HVAC system can be designed to have UV-C lights placed inside ductwork and make-up air units in order to eliminate VOC. Industrial UV-C lights are also able to reduce mold and other contaminants commonly found in electronic manufacturing facilities.

Fab HVAC Equipment

fab hvac ventilationAs discussed, HVAC equipment suited for foundries and chip manufactures is an important aspect. Many of the ventilation equipment found in fabless semiconductor facilities can also be placed in pure play foundries, however they should be tailored according to their application.

Those same HVAC equipment include:

Air curtains have been placed over door entrances between rooms, especially clean rooms. The purpose of air curtains to protect against particles and ambient air from entering a controlled environment. 

Air showers are commonly implemented in semiconductor foundries, however in some cases air curtains are a lower cost alternative. Air showers are used to remove particles from staff when entering a cleanroom. Alternatively, air curtains can be strategically placed to achieve similar results. 

Studies also show that air curtains prevent moisture when applied to the upper regions of the FOUP (source). Implementing air curtains along with other dehumidifying equipment, proves to be an effective solution in the semiconductor manufacturing process.

Exhaust systems for wafer cutting as well as gas scrubbers for general exhaust back-up systems further control the indoor air quality from contamination.

ERV's

In addition to the aforementioned semiconductor ventilation equipment there are also energy recovery ventilators (ERVs). ERV’s are mechanical ventilation equipment that withdraws stale indoor air and replenishes it with fresh air. They can be placed where VOC concentration is the highest and vent into the HVAC system.

ERV’s are energy efficient ventilation equipment due to their ability to temper air before being pushed into the ductwork. They also control humidity, depending on the application and tempered air requirements.

Contact Us

R. Williamson & Associates has been in the ventilation business since 1931 and has a long history of providing ventilation equipment for maritime applications.

Should you have any questions or comments regarding an application please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our trusted experts.

Share this Article
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

atad , reactor & biofiler exhaust

high volume & high pressure blowers

chemical & process fume cleaning
odor control

Fume scrubbers

Corrosive Duty Fans

PVC, plastic & fiberglass fans & blowers

Aeration and Pressure fans

Turbo Pressure blowers

Exhaust and Replacement equipment

fans & make-up air equipment

filters

intake, process
& mist eliminator filters

Want Quick Answers?

Contact Us Page→
Call Us: 847-674-0000→