Nitrogen trifluoride

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Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is used in the electronics industry (semiconductor and LCD manufacture) for plasma etching and chamber cleaning processes, and is increasingly a replacement for PFCs and SF6. While nitrogen trifluoride is recognised as a greenhouse gas it is not currently included in the Kyoto Protocol. (See Greenhouse gases omitted from the Kyoto Protocol for more details).

Nitrogen trifluoride in the Post-Kyoto Protocol Agreement

Ahead of the negotiation of a successor agreement to the protocol, the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have sought comments from governments on whether Perfluoropolyethers and perfluorocarbons should be included in a new agreement.

In a submission to the UNFCCC, the Australian government summarised the the uses and sources of the HFCs under consideration as being[1]:

"A recent paper estimates current global production at 4,000 metric tonnes per annum and provides reasonable evidence in support of a possible doubling of global production by 2010. The rapid growth of NF3 use in semiconductor manufacture is due both to growth in total semiconductor manufacture (with estimated production increases of 15 - 17% per annum4) as well as displacement of older PFC technology for new production lines that use NF3."
"Some emission reduction goals have already been established in the semiconductor and LCD industries. Mitigation efforts in the semiconductor industry focus on process improvements/source reduction, alternative chemicals, capture and beneficial reuse, and destruction technologies. Many of these mitigation activities are available to NF3."
"While use of NF3 as a replacement for PFCs and SF6 can deliver emission reductions, the relative contribution of NF3 to climate change is likely to increase as the use of NF3 grows, particularly if best practice emissions reduction is not employed."

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  1. Australian Government, "Paper No 1B: Views on the coverage of greenhouse gases: Submission to the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP", August 21, 2008. (This material is in the submission on page 7 of the submissions collated by the UNFCCC.)

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