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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - IBM

IBM-East Fishkill, Hopewell Junction


As part of an ongoing program to evaluate manufacturing processes for potential environmental as well as safety and health issues, IBM-East Fishkill has implemented a variety of pollution prevention programs to reduce generation of hazardous waste and eliminate the use of toxic chemicals. Some of the pollution prevention processes now being used at this IBM facility include solvent recycling, chemical substitution, process modification and equipment design projects.

IBM-East Fishkill is a large semiconductor and packaging, manufacturing and developmental facility located in Hopewell Junction. Currently, more than 5,000 employees work at the facility, using degreasing, electroplating, etching and other processes in state-of-the art clean room areas.

Methodologies and Procedures

IBM has developed and implemented two methods to extend the life of etching baths. First, a concept called steady-state bath control is used to maintain a constant chromium etching bath strength. Instead of changing the entire bath after a specified number of parts are processed, 10 percent of the bath is removed on a predetermined schedule and replaced with fresh chemical. This has resulted in higher product yields while generating less chemical waste. Second, ozone is bubbled through a ferricyanide etching bath while an oxidation/reduction electrode monitors the in-situ oxidation of the bath back to its initial strength. This effectively eliminated the need to replace the concentrated bath solution.

In the design of a new electroplating facility, reservoirs have been installed below the manufacturing equipment to contain the plating chemical in an event that requires the planned or automatic dumping of the chemicals. Once the event has been resolved, the chemicals can be reintroduced into the manufacturing equipment. This results in decreased waste and also allows for the continued use of a plating bath that has been fine tuned to the manufacturing process. The reservoirs also allow for the continual recirculation of the plating bath chemicals, resulting in optimal performance. Plating bath life has been extended indefinitely, with chemicals consumed within the process periodically replenished. The manufacturing equipment also features multiple rinsing options to allow segregation of high and low contaminated rinsewater volumes.

A commercial stripper, known as J-100, is a blend of phenol and o-dichlorobenzene was identified as a chemical that should be eliminated because of its toxicity and disposal problems. J-100 was used at this facility to remove photoresists. A photoresist is a polymeric light-sensitive material placed on a wafer as part of semiconductor chip manufacturing to mask off areas during etching and other processes used to produce circuit lines. In 1991, IBM-East Fishkill developed a patented chemical called AZ Stripper consisting primarily of n-methyl-pyrrolidone. AZ Stripper is less toxic than J-100 and is recyclable.

A closed-loop perchloroethylene recycling facility was installed in 1972 to eliminate off-site disposal/recycling. The facility consists of distillation, water separation, filtration and molecular sieve processes, and can provide solvent at a higher purity than what is available from outside suppliers. Air emission abatement for the associated manufacturing operations is also accomplished through carbon absorption beds.


75 percent reduction in chromium etching bath wastes. Elimination of concentrated ferricyanide waste.

$500,000 per year cost savings in plating chemical costs.

Elimination of phenol and o-dichlorobenzene usage and 20 percent reduction in perchloroethylene usage. Decreased waste management costs associated with recycling versus incineration.

2.2 million gallons of perchloroethylene was recycled in 1993, at a cost savings of more than $6 million. Ninety eight percent of the per-chloroethylene emissions were reduced.

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This page was last modified March 8, 1999

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