Linde’s commitment to sustainable technology was exemplified recently when the company won the ‘Green Solar Manufacturing’ Cell Award for its on-site fluorine (F2) generator technology.

The company received the award at the 2009 International Solar Technology Awards.

Linde’s revolutionary F2 cleaning process solution eliminates the use of nitrogen triflouride (NF3), a harmful greenhouse gas, from the manufacture of thin film solar panels.

As part of an overall drive to initiate an industry shift towards sustainability, Linde developed the fluorine solution to negate the need for NF3, which contributes the global warming equivalent of nearly 17 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

NF3 is a greenhouse gas that is widely used in products such as computer chips, flats-screen LCDs and thin-film solar photovoltaic cells.

The widespread use of NF3 has become a considerable environmental concern over recent years following measurements that indicated a quasi-exponential growth in the amount of NF3 present in the atmosphere.

Thus, NF3 has become something of an Achilles heel for the sustainable development of solar technology.

Usage on this scale has prompted Michael Prather, lead author on the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to label NF3 as, “the greenhouse gas missing from Kyoto.”

The most recent round of UN climate talks put NF3 on track to be included on the list of emissions-restricted gases of the successor to Kyoto for 2012 onwards.

In contrast, F2 has no global warming potential and is lower cost to manufacture than gases derived from fluorine, such as NF3.

Replacing NF3 with fluorine in a 1GW thin film Si fab would result in the elimination of NF3 consumption and therefore negative greenhouse gas contribution to the environment.

Linde’s recent PV on-site fluorine installations at Malibu’s production facility in Germany and ST Microelectronics in France have widened recognition of Linde’s commitment to environmentally responsible manufacturing in both the semiconductor and solar industries.