Air Products today introduced its new XeCoverysm on-site xenon recovery service for the semiconductor and MEMS industries. Semiconductor manufacturers faced with rising prices for xenon can now recover and reuse the crucial gas, saving valuable time and money in the process.
Recently, the cost of xenon has been on the rise due to a number of novel new uses for the rare gas. With demand and prices on the rise, there is a growing concern that cost or availability will hamper its applicability. This is the situation within semiconductor manufacturing, where the price of xenon has risen while device prices have continued to decline. Besides higher costs, the potential impact to the industry is the need for additional R&D to mitigate the use of xenon in already established manufacturing processes, which compounds the cost issues.
"Because of high xenon recovery rates, customers currently using xenon in their manufacturing processes could improve their security of supply and see savings of more than 50% in their cost of xenon by utilizing XeCovery recovery service, without incurring any additional capital outlay for equipment," said Gene Karwacki, commercial development manager, for Air Products. "In addition, customers concerned with the high cost of xenon can now continue using the gas in their processes and save valuable R&D time trying to change their processes."
XeCovery recovery service is based on an Air Products' patented technology utilizing Vacuum Swing Adsorption. Because it is an on-site service, the customer's investment is limited to costs associated with installation and utilities to operate the equipment. Air Products assumes responsibility for owning, operating, and maintaining the units placed at a site. The process is capable of extracting xenon from process effluent streams. An enriched mixture of recovered xenon (typically in the percent levels) is compressed and stored. Full vessels are then transported offsite for distillation.