Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Case Study: Edwards

Mike Czerniak is an Environmental Solutions Business Development Manager in Edwards. Watch him discuss the environmental hazards of PFC emissions.
Edwards is a company that provides equipment to the semiconductor industry, those are the chips that go into everyday things like smartphones and computers, and we make the vacuum pumps that pump the processed gases that enable the technologies to make the chips and we also make gas abatement equipment that treats the exhaust gases that come off from those processes before being released to the atmosphere. Gas abatement involves treating the processed gases from the semiconductor industry, these could be toxic, corrosive, explosive, global warming gases or several of the above. And to stop these being harmful when they get into the atmosphere we treat them before they’re emitted.
So my affiliation with Bristol University actually is a continuation of my company’s association with Bristol University, and specifically the Chemistry Department, because 20 years ago my then boss who founded our part of the company came to the department and said ‘Houston we’ve got a problem, our customers need to treat their exhaust gases’ and Professor Peter Timms came up with a great technology that would enable our customers to meet their needs and resulted in our very first product, the Gas Reaction Column, and that really established the links between the two organisations.
And the specific project that this is being built around is our company’s interest in a gas called CF4, which is a great global warming gas, very very high potential for global warming, 7,300 times higher than that of CO2 which many people will know, but worse still it’s got an atmospheric lifetime of 50,000 years. To give you a feel on that, 50,000 years ago if we were going to go to lunch we would be killing a Woolly Mammoth.
And the thing that had been concerning me in particular was the discrepency between CF4 that’s measured in the atmosphere and the CF4 which people believe is being emitted from things like aluminium and semiconductor manufacture, and we really needed to get to grips with exactly where are these emissions coming from, and this was a specific expertise that the University had, with the added benefit of only being 20 miles away from our factory.
So we felt that an academic connection was critical to solving the problem, because it needed to have independent scientific validity, and we also felt that it was necessary that it didn’t just come from the University itself, but from a pool of academic experience in the field so that it would be very reflective of the current state of understanding of the problem. We felt it was important to get engaged with policymakers and regulators, because for changes to be made to an industry as a whole, these are the people that actually change actions and if improvements are going to be made globally to reducing CF4 emissions it needs to be enacted in a global sense.
And particularly when it’s not just to do with the industry that we’re engaged in, but also things like aluminium smelting and rare earth metals. And I was delighted to be invited to participate in the IPCC, that’s the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, where we’re currently rewriting what are called the ‘emission values’ for the industry. These are the numbers that people use if they don’t take direct measurements to assess how much emissions they are actually producing, and those numbers are going to be increased so that the industry has to take recognition of the fact that they’re actually emitting more than they used to think they were.
So given that there’s an acknowledged gap between what is observed in the atmosphere by way of CF4, carbon tetrafluoride, and what the various industries that emit it believe are being emitted, there’s clearly still more work that can be done to further optimise the emission reduction from those industries and Edwards is very keen to participate in this.

Mike Czerniak is an Environmental Solutions Business Development Manager in Edwards, a company who specialise in sophisticated vacuum systems used in products like LED displays and solar cells. He started his professional career with Philips, initially in their UK Research and Development labs and subsequently in the factory in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Mike has worked in the semiconductor business since gaining his PhD in 1982.

Mike has had marketing roles at UK-based OEMs Cambridge Instruments, VSW and VG Semicon before joining Edwards 19 years ago. He has held various technical and marketing roles before starting his current role earlier this year.

At the moment, he is working diligently to develop new business opportunities and promote Edwards’ thought leadership and brand. His work as a public spokesperson and prolific author on a variety of environmental topics, most recently in seeking to raise awareness about the hazards of PFC (perfluorocarbon) emissions, has been recognised by the University of Bristol with a two year visiting Professorship in the Chemistry Department.

This article is from the free online

Unleash Your Potential: Sustainable Futures

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education