14 February 2022
Navitas issues first GaN sustainability report
Gallium nitride (GaN) power integrated circuit firm Navitas Semiconductor of El Segundo, CA, USA and Dublin, Ireland has released its first annual sustainability report. As well as detailing the goals and progress of corporate initiatives to reduce its own greenhouse-gas emissions, the ‘Sustainability Report 2021’ highlights how the firm’s GaN technology supports global carbon ‘net-zero’ ambitions by reducing customers’ CO2 footprints and accelerating the evolution from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and electricity-based applications.
Navitas claims to be the first company to publish a sustainability report that comprehensively quantifies the positive impact of GaN power semiconductors on climate change based on global standards. The report includes a third-party Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) of GaN technology according to ISO14040/14044, the international standard for assessing environmental impacts throughout a product’s life cycle — from raw material acquisition through production, use, end-of-life treatment, recycling and final disposal. The report also quantifies corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts through third-party assessments.
Gallium metal is derived as a by-product when smelting aluminium, and nitrogen is readily available in the atmosphere, so GaN has a minimal material-origin CO2 footprint, is easily sourced, and is low cost. GaN is also non-toxic and free from conflict-mineral concerns. And, although GaN is a wide-bandgap semiconductor material, GaN power IC devices can be manufactured using older, well established and available CMOS processing equipment (with critical dimensions of 350nm). As a result, GaN device production today yields 3-5x greater output for a given equipment set compared with traditional silicon power devices, it is reckoned.
As a next-generation power semiconductor, GaN runs up to 20x faster than legacy silicon and enables up to 3x more power and 3x faster charging in half the size and weight. Navitas’ GaNFast power ICs integrate GaN power and drive plus protection and control circuitry to deliver simple, small, fast and efficient performance. Due to advanced-material performance and Navitas’ proprietary AllGaN process design kit (PDK), GaN power ICs are much smaller than silicon chips, and have 4-10x lower CO2 footprint to manufacture and ship, it is reckoned.
High-efficiency, high-speed applications using GaN power ICs are smaller, lighter and use less material and less energy than silicon systems. For example, a 65W laptop adapter with GaN has up to 30% lower footprint – delivering a net-benefit of over 4kg of CO2 reduction per GaN IC shipped, says Navitas. In data centers, GaN has the potential to save over 10 million tons of CO2/year through increased efficiency. When GaN is considered for electric vehicle (EV) applications like on-board chargers, DC-DC converters and traction drive, it is estimated that an upgrade from silicon to GaN could accelerate the worldwide transition from internal combustion engines to EVs by three years, and reduce total road-sector emissions by 20% per year. The report also explains how GaN ICs drive down cost-per-watt of energy conversion and storage in solar power applications to support cost reductions of up to 25% – reducing payback periods and accelerating adoption.
“Our mission is to become the next-generation power semiconductor leader and contribute to reduction of fossil-fuel emissions,” says CEO & co-founder Gene Sheridan. “Our technologies can increase our customers’ ability to achieve their own CO2 emissions targets by reducing the end-use electricity and material requirements of their products,” he adds. “We contribute to power and emission reductions in every major market segment across mobile, consumer, industrial, computing, communications and transportation, and strive to be a critical enabler of improvements in electrification and energy efficiency to meet the Paris Accord’s Net-Zero goals as highlighted in the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2021 report.”