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Greener Cleaner Clean Rooms

by | Aug 11, 2015

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A Major Source of VOC’s are IPA-Soaked Wipers.

Despite initiatives that target sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) performance improvements, companies that operate cleanrooms struggle to reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). Additionally, much of the VOC emissions are from spent wipers that are sitting in hazardous waste cans.

While the EH&S issues associated with Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) are well understood, finding a suitable replacement has eluded the best efforts of cleanroom professionals. The surface tension and vapor pressure properties of IPA which make it so desirable as cleaning agent are directly tied to the EH&S risks that have so challenged cleanroom operators.

In addition to  acute flammability and VOC issues, users also face health risks from long term exposure to IPA fumes.

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Is it possible to Replace IPA-Soaked Wipers?

Deionized (DI) water as the universal solvent is the ideal substitute for IPA but existing polyester cleanroom wipers do not possess the absorbency or particle removal properties to enable its use. This is especially the case in microelectronics where much of the wiping is carried out on high vacuum chambers that require clean, dry surfaces to minimize pump down times.

In large part, wafer fabs and other microelectronic cleanrooms are forced to use IPA due to the poor absorption and pick-up properties of polyester cleanroom wipers.

Polyester’s circular shaped, adsorbent fiber offers very limited particle dislodgement and liquid pickup which necessitates the use of IPA to achieve clean, dry surfaces.

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VOC Free Wiping.

To enable microelectronic manufacturing facilities to replace IPA with DI water, Foamtec has developed MiraWIPE® Wipers, a unique microfiber fabric designed to produce ultra clean and dry surfaces. MiraWIPE® is already production proven to replace IPA-soaked cleanroom wipers at the most advanced 300mm wafers fabs running 14nm processes, even on Hi-Vac chambers and photolithography equipment.

MiraWIPE’s interstitial, star shaped fiber contains variegated edges that enable particles, residues and liquids to be easily dislodged, entrapped and removed from critical cleanroom surfaces. This combination enables operators to use the MiraWIPE® Wiper with DI water, eliminating the need for IPA.

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The Greener, Cleaner Cleanroom.

MiraWIPE® and DI water used together are an environmentally friendly, easy to implement, and cost-efficient green solution to the vexing EH&S issues plaguing cleanroom professionals.

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