Thursday, November 15, 2007

Turning IT waste into green power

IBM recycles wafers for use as solar panels. Computer giant IBM has developed a process of reclaiming imprinted computer circuitry from obsolete machines to allow them to be used by the solar panel industry. The silicon material, of which they are made, is in short supply by this fledgling, though potentially huge, industry.

Charles Bai, chief financial officer at ReneSola, one of China's fastest growing solar energy companies, commented: "One of the challenges facing the solar industry is a severe shortage of silicon which threatens to stall its rapid growth. This is why we have turned to reclaimed silicon materials sourced primarily from the semiconductor industry to supply the raw material our company needs to manufacture solar panels."

Silicon wafers
Silicon wafers are the base materials for the manufacture of microelectronic products, from computers to mobile phones. Currently, around 250,000 silicon wafers are started every day across the globe.

The new technique, which has been pioneered at IBM’s plant in Burlington, Vermont, uses ‘pattern’ - a removal technique to remove all IP from the unit before it’s made available for use.