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.
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 Schlsser, 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 bar
|Contact: Alexander Schlsser |