A work tool, a leisure activity resource, a personal assistant - computers are ubiquitous. Yet the environmental performance for today‘s computers leaves a lot to be desired: they rapidly become obsolete, typically contain toxic substances as flame retardants and have individual components that are difficult to recycle. Moreover, they consume plenty of power whose production, in turn, causes the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The environmentally-sound touch-screen PC, iameco, is definitely out of the ordinary – indeed, it is made out of wood.
Employees at the MicroPro Company in Ireland, working in collaboration with colleagues at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Berlin, have engineered a wooden-frame computer with reduced environmental impacts. As the first computer of its class, the “iameco” (pronounced “I - am - eco”) was awarded for the “EU Ecolabel,” the European Union’s environmental label.
“This touch-screen PC has a very low energy consumption over the entire lifecycle of the unit – starting from production, through the use phase to its ultimate recycling,” explains Alexander Schlösser, scientist at IZM. The carbon footprint is less than 360 kilograms CO2eq over the full product life cycle, which is 70 percent less than a typical desktop PC with monitor.
In addition, it can be easily recycled. Of the materials used, 98 percent can be recycled. Indeed, 20 percent of the computer can be recycled immediately – in other words, many parts and components can be reused for repairing other computers – such as parts of the wooden frame.
Heatsinks replace fans
But how is it possible to design such an environmentally-friendly PC? One example: to ensure that the processor does not overheat, a fan typically provides cooling to the PC. This kind of ventilation not only consumes energy, it also comes with an annoyingly incessant buzz. So, the fans were replaced with heatsinks, which convey the heat from the processor via copper tubes, called heat pipes. This fan-free design saves energy, and the computer is barely audible. The scientists also got creative with the display lighting. Instead of conventional lighting, LEDs illuminate the screen and improve its energy efficiency by 30 to 40 percent. The manufacturers reduced the hazardous materials to a minimum, and for the most part substituted halogenated flame retardants with chemicals that are less harmful to the environment. Over the long term, these halogenated ﬂame retardants should disappear from all computers.
Since the eco-PC was designed with standard components, users can retrofit it anytime – for example, if more internal memory is needed. And if the computer were to crash , the users would benefit from the improved dissasembly and modular design of the device. This enables the capability for easier repair and maintenance. Only those components will be replaced that are so severely damaged that they can no longer be repaired. The better maintenance option ensures a longer product life, and the easily conducted repairs ensure a high degree of environmentally sound engineering. In the next stage, the manufacturer intends to expand the modularity of the computer so that after a few years, users can equip older computers with a new internal life. The “old” computer would then return to the latest state of the art – and would cost only half as much as a completely new PC. The employees at MicroPro and IZM want to continue collaborating in the future as well. At this time, they are jointly developing an environmentally-friendly wooden frame notebook.
Alexander Schlösser | Fraunhofer Research News
Factory networks energy, buildings and production
12.07.2018 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
Manipulating single atoms with an electron beam
10.07.2018 | University of Vienna
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences