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System for the recovery, purification and recycling of argon purge gas used in high technology manufacture of silicon wafers, 3D printed metal components and heat treatment applications at the time of use

Resumen

Tipo:
Oferta Tecnológica
Referencia:
TOUK20210407001
Publicado:
15/04/2021
Caducidad:
16/04/2022
Resumen:
A UK clean-tech company has developed a product that recovers, purifies and recycles argon purge gas used in high technology manufacturing. The product removes all combustible impurities using an innovative chemical looping combustive purification technology. The company are seeking engineering/OEM partners working in 3D metals printing, biogas and heat treatment applications to incorporate the technology into their systems via commercial agreement with technical assistance or joint venture.

Details

Tittle:
System for the recovery, purification and recycling of argon purge gas used in high technology manufacture of silicon wafers, 3D printed metal components and heat treatment applications at the time of use
Summary:
A UK clean-tech company has developed a product that recovers, purifies and recycles argon purge gas used in high technology manufacturing. The product removes all combustible impurities using an innovative chemical looping combustive purification technology. The company are seeking engineering/OEM partners working in 3D metals printing, biogas and heat treatment applications to incorporate the technology into their systems via commercial agreement with technical assistance or joint venture.
Description:
The current "state of the art" is not to recycle any gases and take a single pass-through approach - this is promoted by the gas suppliers who have a vested interest in not promoting gas recycle and reuse.

There are a couple of options for site wide recovery and recycle of argon gas but none appear to be being used in the solar or semiconductor wafer fabrication markets - these are the big two uses for high purity argon. One of the problems with a central, site wide, system is that it is an all or nothing approach with a single point of failure that can close down a facility whereas a number of distributed point of use systems provides a much more robust solution.

The UK company´s product has an internal recycle rate of ~98% and a factory recycle rate of ~95% - the customers typically waste some gas during their process. It delivers a gas purity of 99.9998% with a recycled gas flow of 320l/min - this flow capacity allows for one unit to multiplex across 4 silicon ingot process tools or multiple heat treatment furnaces. The product removes all combustive impurities e.g. CO, CO2, H2, H2O, non-methane hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, volatile sulphur compounds and will also remove O2, however, it does not remove nitrogen and methane.

The system is based around an innovative chemical looping combustive purification technology that the company invented that uniquely uses a solid state oxygen carrier for the combustive removal of the impurities and compressed air for regeneration of the reactor vessels. The unit contains two pairs of reactor vessels to allow 24/7 operation.

The company have also developed a different and complementary technology of sub-ambient temperature adsorption and can remove nitrogen and methane as well as other species but can´t remove hydrogen. This product has a similar flow capacity to the argon-related product of ~320l/min and a recycle rate of 95%. This additional product can be applied to the removal of air gases e.g. glove boxes, 3D printed metals etc.

In addition both technologies can be applied to the removal of organo-sulphur/H2S and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from biogas in a single step. Removal of these odorant compounds is a requirement for injection of the bio-methane into the gas grid and removal of the sulphur compounds is required if the biogas is to be burned in a electrical generator - the sulphur reacts to sulphuric acid and corrodes the engine from the inside out.

The UK company are seeking engineering or OEM (original equipment manufacturers) partners working in biogas or 3D metals printing to incorporate either or both technologies into their existing processes via commercial agreement with technical assistance or joint venture.
Advantages and Innovations:
Another advantage of the point of use solution is that it can be easily retrofitted into an existing facility. The central systems on the other hand require a new building to be constructed and also use extra gases such as hydrogen or oxygen which are normally not present on site.

The UK company´s products offer a world first delivering the purity levels that solar and semiconductor customers demand.

There is a product that removes oxygen from argon down to ~10ppm that is used in glove boxes for the welding of titanium components but it does not remove nitrogen. The same product can be used with some 3D printed metal printers, again where the nitrogen levels are not of concern. This product is not appropriate for glove box/3D printed component applications into the aerospace sector where there are specifications on the nitrogen content of the gas the welds/layers are exposed to.

The carbon dioxide equivalent footprint associated with high purity purges gases such as argon are extremely high. As well as improving process profitability argon recycle also dramatically reduces the process carbon footprint as well.
Stage of Development:
Already on the market
IPs:
Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted,Patents granted,Exclusive Rights
CommeR Statunts Regarding IPR Status:
Patents granted for the argon-related technology in the UK, France Germany, Norway. UK patent granted for the removal of sulphur compounds and other technology to build and file new patents as and when the new new application is developed. Pending PCT application for the nitrogen removal technology.

Partner sought

Type and Role of Partner Sought:
The UK company are seeking, via commercial agreement with technical assistance or joint venture:
· Partners selling different 3D metal printers into the aerospace, medial and automotive markets and adding the complementary product of argon recycle to their product list should yield good synergies as a significant number of their customer base will be using argon
· Factories providing printed metal components either to an internal customer e.g. Airbus/GE etc. or as an engineering service to the wider engineering community. Such companies will consume large amounts of argon and be getting to the point where cost reductions are being sought
· 3D printer OEMs could incorporate the technology into their 3D printer suits to offer their customers a cost reduction in the process
· Engineering partner/OEM working in biogas who could work with the company to integrate their organo-sulphur/H2S removal technology into their product offering. There are companies providing biogas plants that would benefit from a regenerable cost reduced gas cleanup technology. In addition the suppliers of the gas engines/generators could incorporate the technology into their gas engine/generator offering to give higher up time, lower service costs etc. In either case the UK company does not have the capability, with their existing engineering partner, to fabricate equipment in the 3,000 to 5,000l/min flow regime.

Client

Type and Size of Client:
Industry SME 11-49
Already Engaged in Trans-National Cooperation:
Si
Languages Spoken:
English

Keywords

Technology Keywords:
05004003 Absorción
02007009 Materials Handling Technology (solids, fluids, gases)
02007010 Metals and Alloys
05004006 Otros procesos
04005004 Photovoltaics