One way to assess the environmental impact of a technology is to perform materials flow analysis and life cycle assessment, which account for all of the materials needed to make the final product and to use it. Williams et al. present their findings for microchip manufacturing, which expand on previous efforts, in part, by comparing process data from different sources. A 2-g, 32-megabyte dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip requires 1.6 kg of secondary fossil fuels and 72 g of chemical inputs for production and use, as well as 32 kg of water during the production phase. This extraordinary ratio of input to output reflects the high degree of materials purity needed as well as the complex organization within the chip, both of which levy entropic tariffs. — PDS
Environ. Sci. Technol. 10.1021/es205643o (2002).