Understanding Ammonium Nitrate Hazards in Semiconductor Facilities

Roberts, Thomas
(Micron Technology, Boise, ID)

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Ammonium nitrate can be present in semiconductor exhaust systems as a direct byproduct from the manufacturing processes. Ammonium nitrate can also occur in centralized exhaust systems as a result of incompatible emissions from unrelated fabrication equipment. Although ammonium nitrate (AN) is typically considered non-hazardous, under certain conditions ammonium nitrate can undergo an explosive thermal decomposition reaction. Explosive thermal decomposition of ammonium nitrate can lead to loss of life and severe damage to facilities and equipment. It is critical to understand the conditions under which AN can pose an unacceptable risk based on the potential for an explosive decomposition reaction. Understanding the physical hazards of a byproduct can assist in implementation of appropriate controls to reduce risk to an acceptable level. A thorough understanding of AN reactivity hazards can assist in the evaluation of appropriate controls for safe handling of the material. In this presentation I will review the conditions under which ammonium nitrate can pose an unacceptable risk due to the potential of explosive decomposition. In addition the presentation will review accepted methods for the safe handling of ammonium nitrate.

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