The World Bank

Electronics Manufacturing Industry - Pollution Prevention Guidelines


Courtesy of The World Bank


Pollution Prevention Guidelines to provide technical advice and guidance to staff and consultants involved in pollution-related projects. The guidelines represent state-of-the-art thinking on how to reduce pollution emissions from the production process. In many cases, the guidelines provide numerical targets for reducing pollution, as well as maximum emissions levels that are normally achievable through a combination of cleaner production and end-of-pipe treatment. The guidelines are designed to protect human health; reduce mass loadings to the environment; draw on commercially proven technologies; be cost-effective; follow current regulatory trends; and promote good industrial practices, which offer greater productivity and increased energy efficiency.

Table of Contents

  • Industry Description and Practices
  • Waste Characteristics
  • Pollution Prevention and Control
  • Target Pollution Loads
  • Treatment Technologies
  • Emissions Guidelines
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Key Issues
  • Sources

Industry Description and Practices

The electronics industry includes the manufacture of passive components (resistors, capacitors, inductors); semiconductor components (discretes, integrated circuits); printed circuit boards (single and multilayer boards); and printed wiring assemblies.

This chapter addresses the environmental issues associated with the last three manufacturing processes. The manufacture of passive components is not included because it is similar to that of semiconductors. (A difference is that passive component manufacturing uses less of the toxic chemicals employed in doping semiconductor components and more organic solvents, epoxies, plating metals, coatings, and lead.)

Semiconductors. Semiconductors are produced by treating semiconductor substances with dopants such as boron or phosphorus atoms to give them electrical properties. Important semiconductor substances are silicon and gallium arsenide. Manufacturing stages include crystal growth; acid etch and epitaxy formation; doping and oxidation; diffusion and ion implantation; metallization; chemical vapor deposition; die separation; die attachment; postsolder cleaning; wire bonding; encapsulation packaging; and final testing, marking, and packaging. Several of these process steps are repeated several times, so the actual length of the production chain may well exceed 100 processing steps. Between the repetitions, a cleaning step that contributes to the amount of effluent produced by the process is often necessary. Production involves carcinogenic and mutagenic substances and should therefore be carried out in closed systems.

Printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing. There are three types of boards: single sided (circuits on one side only), double sided (circuits on both sides), and multilayer (three or more circuit layers).
Board manufacturing is accomplished by producing patterns of conductive material on a nonconductive substrate by subtractive or additive processes. (The conductor is usually copper; the base can be pressed epoxy, Teflon, or glass.) In the subtractive process, which is the preferred route, the steps include cleaning and surface preparation of the base, electroless copperplating, pattern printing and masking, electroplating, and etching.

Printed wiring assemblies. Printed wiring assemblies consist of components attached to one or both sides of the printed circuit board. The attachment may be by through-hole technology, in which the ”legs” of the components are inserted through holes in the board and are soldered in place from underneath, or by surface mount technology (SMT), in which components are attached to the surface by solder or conductive adhesive. (The solder is generally a tin-lead alloy.) In printed circuit boards of all types, drilled holes may have to be copper-plated to ensure interconnections between the different copper layers. SMT, which eliminates the drilled holes, allows much denser packing of components, especially when components are mounted on both sides. It also offers higher-speed performance and is gaining over through-hole technology.

Waste Characteristics

Air Emissions

Potential air emissions from semiconductor manufacturing include toxic, reactive, and hazardous gases; organic solvents; and particulates from the process. The changing of gas cylinders may also result in fugitive emissions of gases. in use may include hydrogen, silane, arsine, phosphine, diborane, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, dichlorosilane, phosphorous oxychloride, and boron tribromide.
Potential air emissions from the manufacture of printed circuit boards include sulfuric, hydrochloric, phosphoric, nitric, acetic, and other acids; chlorine; ammonia; and organic solvent vapors (isopropanol, acetone, trichloroethylene; n-butyl acetate; xylene; petroleum distillates; and ozone-depleting substances).

In the manufacture of printed wiring assemblies, air emissions may include organic solvent vapors and fumes from the soldering process, including aldehydes, flux vapors, organic acids, and so on. Throughout the electronics manufacturing sector, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have been a preferred organic solvent for a variety of applications. CFCs are ozone-depleting substances
(ODSs). Their production in and import into developing countries will soon be banned. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) have been developed as a substitute for CFCs, but they too are ODSs and will be phased out. Methyl chloroform, another organic solvent, has also been used by the electronics industry; it too is an ODS and is being eliminated globally on the same schedule as CFCs. Chlorobromomethane and n-propyl bromide are also unacceptable because of their high ozone-depleting potential.

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