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Keywords:

  • silane;
  • venting;
  • treatment;
  • disposal;
  • incidents

Abstract

Silane (SiH4) is a pyrophoric gas that requires special equipment and handling precautions to manage safely. Unfortunately, many users have had various serious accidents with SiH4 equipment since popular inception of the gas in the late 1960s for semiconductor manufacture, including at least eight fatalities and many injuries. SiH4 usage is growing tremendously worldwide in various industries, including semiconductor, flat-panel display, photovoltaic cell, and specialty glass manufacturing. Significant uses of SiH4 also require systems with the capability to safely vent or treat SiH4 gas—such as residual venting during container changes or emergency venting. Six hazards associated with venting and treating SiH4 gas are presented in detail. Each hazard is illustrated by an actual venting incident and resulting lessons learned are discussed. Preferred venting and treatment solutions are detailed and a silane disposal system design work process is presented. Although the article is specific to pure SiH4, it has relevance to both venting and treatment of pyrophoric gases and flammable gases that possess relatively low-ignition energies. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog 2011