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“The iameco is low-maintenance and very easy to recycle”

It certainly catches the eye – you don’t see a wooden PC every day. Alexander Schlösser runs his nimble fingers across the touchscreen of the “iameco,” a computer whose environmentally friendly and elegant product design, energy efficiency, and sustainability make it unique. Fraunhofer VμE spoke to Schlösser about the environmental balance sheet of the “iameco.”

 

What contribution did Fraunhofer IZM make to the development of this eco-PC? 

Schlösser: We were commissioned by the MicroPro company to carry out an environmental assessment of the PC. In concrete terms, we investigated the design and technologies used and suggested improvements. 

How exactly did the environmental assessment of the iameco proceed? 

Schlösser: We evaluated the primary energy consumption of the all-in-one PC across its entire life cycle, i.e. from production and use to recycling.  We also analyzed its carbon footprint and looked at the level of CO2 emissions the iameco would produce throughout its life cycle. In addition to using the renewable resource of wood as the material for the housing, the carbon footprint is mainly determined by the PC’s energy consumption in the use phase.  We then drew up design optimizations for reduced energy consumption and increased recyclability; these optimizations were adopted immediately at the product development stage. 

And what kind of footprint does the iameco have?

Schlösser: The result was impressive. Its carbon footprint is very small. It produces less than 360 kg of CO2 emissions, which is only 30% of that of a typical desktop PC with monitor. 80% of these emissions are generated by the operation of the computer.  The largest energy consumption is therefore in the use phase, rather than during production. The wooden housing also improves the carbon footprint, but in comparison to the use phase and the manufacture of the mainboard and the monitor, its contribution is less important.   

How did you manage to reduce the energy consumption of the iameco? 

Schlösser: Only notebook components were used in the PC. We recommended, for example, that a fan-less cooling concept be integrated and an SSD hard drive installed. This type of hard drive is very lownoise and uses less electricity. We also suggested equipping the iameco with an LED monitor, as these use 30 – 40% less energy than conventional monitors. 

How recycling-friendly is the iameco? 

Schlösser: The iameco is lowmaintenance and very easy to recycle. That means that its standard components can be replaced easily. We are working on allowing the entire “inner life” of the PC to be designed in a modular manner using standardized interfaces, so that, ideally, users will be able to remove old components and simply replace them with new ones. In principle, that will make a completely new PC, although the housing and screen will remain. 

Looking into the future: will there soon be eco-TVs and eco-laptops? 

Schlösser: Definitely! We are currently working with MicroPro on developing an environmentally friendly notebook with a wooden frame as part of the EU project “LCAtoGo.” 

Mr. Schlösser, thank you very much for talking to us.  Alexander Schlösser was talking to Juliane Otto.   

 

Contact: 

Alexander Schlösser 
Phone +49 30 46403-771 
alexander.schloesser(at)izm.fraunhofer.de
Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and  Microintegration IZM 
Gustav-Meyer-Allee 25 
13355 Berlin 
Germany 
www.izm.fraunhofer.de

 

About Alexander Schlösser:  Alexander Schlösser studied history of science and technology and environmental technology at the Technische  Universität Berlin. In 2011,  he won the 2nd place in the Elektronik  Ecodesign-Preis for his master’s  thesis on “Environmental policy  for electronics/green IT – a consideration  of environmental laws in  the PR China and Germany based  on selected examples.” He currently works as researcher at Fraunhofer IZM in the Environmental and Reliability Engineering department and is concerned with the development of sustainability strategies and evaluation  methods in the context of electronics  and ICT. Mr. Schlösser deals with the optimization potential of IT technologies for energy-efficient data centers.