Using GaN technology to reduce the power losses of power converters by half and divide their volume by three

STMicroelectronics is deploying GaN-on-Silicon technology to address the need for more energy-efficient power electronics, thereby reducing the electrical losses of power converters for chargers, servers, and electric motors by half and their volume by a factor of 3.

Main project's drivers for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

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Energy and resource efficiency

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Energy Decarbonisation

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Energy efficiency improvements

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Improving efficiency in non-energy resources

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Emissions absorption

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Financing low-carbon producers or disinvestment from carbon assets

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Reduction of other greenhouse gases emission

Project objectives

Reduce the energy consumption of electronic equipment by improving the performance of power converters.

Compared to conventional Silicon technology, the GaN technology implemented by STMicroelectronics reduces the electrical losses of power converters in chargers, servers, photovoltaic systems, and electric motors by a factor of 2 and their volume of by a factor of 3.

The company thereby addresses the need for more power-efficient consumer electronics, computers, electric cars, and industrial equipment.

 

More specifically, this concerns:

  • The implementation of a 200 mm (8') pilot manufacturing line to produce wafers on Silicon and the etching of GaN integrated circuits, with the construction of a building containing a clean room of 1,000 m2 dedicated to this innovation.
  • The development of this new technology with advanced research centers (CEA-Leti, IRT-Nanoelec) and a start-up (Exagan).
  • The purchase of specialized production equipment for 8' GaN technology (epitaxy, metrology, etching).
  • The development of new product portfolios for power applications (chargers, converters in the industrial, automotive, consumer electronics, and computer fields).

Emission scope(s)

on which the project has a significant impact

  • Emission scopes
  • Description and quantification of associated GHG emissions
  • Clarification on the calculation

Scope 1

Direct emissions generated by the company's activity.

Scope 2

Indirect emissions associated with the company's electricity and heat consumption.

Scope 3

Emissions induced (upstream or downstream) by the company's activities, products and/or services in its value chain.

Emission Removal

Carbon sinks creation, (BECCS, CCU/S, …)

Avoided Emissions

Emissions avoided by the activities, products and/or services in charge of the project, or by the financing of emission reduction projects.

Avoided emission : Energy saving thanks to lower losses in the power converters (divided by 2)

  • Quantification: 3,000 tC02eq/year

For ST, the manufacturing of these new-generation power converters in the pilot manufacturing line will result in a surplus of GHG emissions from the production site. However, it will be significantly compensated by the reduction in GHG emissions upon integration of these electronic devices in equipment, as the new power devices will reduce their load loss by 50%.

Assuming these new circuits are implemented in cell phone chargers (3.5 kwh annual charge, of which 10% charge loss that will be reduced to 5%), we estimate that the net emission gain will be more than 3,000 tCO2eq/year.

Key points

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Invested amount

Not communicated

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Starting date of the project

January 2019

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Project localisation

Tours, Indre et Loire (France)

Project maturity level

Prototype laboratory test (TRL 7)

Real life testing (TRL 7-8)

Pre-commercial prototype (TRL 9)

Small-scale implementation

Medium to large scale implementation

Economic profitability of the project (ROI)

Short term (0-3 years)

Middle term (4-10 years)

Long term (> 10 years)

Illustrations of the project

GaN technology contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy: lower energy use in a wide range of high-voltage applications (industrial, electric cars, consumer electronics powering by the mains).
  • SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities: the electrical infrastructures in cities will be more efficient.

The Tours pilot line will be transformed into a mass production unit, at the Tours site and possibly at other ST sites.

Various factors contribute to the success of this project:

  • Collaboration with advanced research organizations and start-ups
  • Public support for the project

A partnership between STMicroelectronics and Exagan, CEA-Leti, and IRT Nanoelec has been initiated.  

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Contact the company carrying the project

sustainable.development@st.com

STM’s other projects :