Cost-cutting cassettes and a reduced carbon footprint

The Energy Saving Element (ESE) product line from Kanthal offers reduced heat loss through insulation of heating elements. This translates to lower energy consumption compared with traditional designs, without compromising productivity.

Thermal processing costs represent a significant percentage of the total manufacturing costs for a typical semiconductor device. Implementing the ESE product line from Kanthal in a semiconductor fabrication plant, or fab, can result in major savings in energy consumption.

Reducing heat loss through insulation

We recognized a desire for improvement in the industry to reduce energy consumption.

Kevin Peck, Technology Manager, Kanthal.But cost efficiency isn’t the only thing driving innovation at Kanthal, says Kevin Peck, Technology Manager at Kanthal. “We recognized a desire for improvement in the industry to reduce energy consumption, thus reducing the carbon footprint of semiconductor fabs,” he says. “The heating element assemblies used in the thermal processing steps represent a large portion of a typical fab’s energy consumption. We evaluated that the leading energy consumption during processing was heat loss through the insulation, especially in high-temperature or long-duration processes.”

The components of the ESE are designed to reduce energy loss and operate at a much lower power level. Furthermore, they are designed to achieve the same kind of process results as OEM parts. The ESE product line is consistent with the stewardship inherent in Kanthal’s culture, to improve productivity as well as help others reduce harm to the environment. This is a common theme found throughout Kanthal’s product lines, from materials to systems.

Saving energy directly for manufacturers

When a Central European semiconductor device manufacturer asked for a way to reduce energy consumption for its horizontal wafer processing cassettes, the ESE was able to prove its worth. The manufacturer wanted a reduction from 5.3 kWh to 4.0 kWh, while operating at a steady state temperature of 1,245°C (2,273°F). Simulations with an engineered design showed net energy savings for the ESE cassettes to be about 1.6 kWh, or 30 percent. Further testing at the manufacturer’s facility verified that the evaluation cassette reduced energy consumption to approximately 3.7 kWh.

The total energy savings are expected to offset the cost of the new cassettes. Since the operating power required to maintain temperature is also reduced, the service life of the cassettes is also expected to increase.

Since the successful installation of the cassettes, the customer has placed blanket orders to replace its existing heating cassettes as components wear out.

Balancing energy savings and dynamic cooling rate

The ESE product line can offer some potential enhanced process performance characteristics (shown below). A variant of the ESE is designed to reduce heat loss in key areas, while maintaining the cooling rates of a traditional heating element. “In processes where cooling rates are critical, this version strikes a balance between energy savings and dynamic cooling rate,” Kevin Peck says.

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Key advantages of the Energy Saving Element

  • Direct reduction of energy consumption via reduced heat loss.
  • Ancillary reduction in energy consumption due to reduction in energy spent removing heat from the environment by equipment such as HVAC.
  • Lower temperatures around the heating element assembly can increase equipment reliability.

Key enhanced process performance characteristics of the ESE

  • Potential to operate the equipment at a higher temperature than with a standard element.
  • Potential to ramp faster (increase temperatures) than with a standard heating element.
  • Potential to increase chamber size under similar process parameters and achieve higher throughput.