The University of Illinois has had a strong focus on e-waste through its Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI). Now, researchers at the University are experimenting with a technique that would enable electronic circuits to repair themselves. This holds the promise of longer service lives and therefore less e-waste. Here are excerpts from "Autonomic Restoration of Electrical Conductivity" in Advanced Materials.
Apple filed a patent application in December 2011 for a "fuel cell system for a portable computing device". Here are some excerpts from the application speaking the social/market forces to which Apple sees itself responding.
Email and email attachments have less environmental impact than physical delivery. But email is not without its own costs, both in terms of energy/carbon footprints and organizational productivity. A French company has taken a hard look at this and announced that it will move toward "zero email". At the same time, a German company has stopped its servers from routing some email after hours.
Apple's iPad, e-readers like Kindle, and smart phones lack the storage capacity and I/O options of even a netbook, necessitating connection to a cloud of data and applications. iPhone users began placing unprecedented demands on the cloud two years ago; it is likely that users of the tablets and other new devices and services are accelerating the trend. New statistics now reveal the the amazing scope and speed of this demand.
We first looked at the impact of social media in 2007 with Virtual Worlds Leave a Real World Carbon Footprint. Since then, there has been increasing focus on the mega-data centers that underlie the most popular services. Facebook, who has opted for a custom server approach to reducing PUE, has take the unique step of publishing its server and facility designs. Facebook calls this the Open Compute Project. The Project just picked up a surprising ally - Greenpeace.
UK's Waste & Resources Action Programme (WARP) conducted a study of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) content of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs). What can we learn, besides UK greens' fondness for initials? Turns out media, not IT, gear is the largest category. Upgrades are driving this waste stream.
Vertatique has been tracking statistics about the carbon costs of everyday computer activities dating back to our March 2007 look at Second Life. These stats can be both useful for awareness-building and hard to get right, as we were reminded by the 2009 flap over Google's search footprint*. Google subsequently released more statistics on its unit energy consumption and CO2e footprint.
Fujitsu announced that it has established a consolidated green product development standard based on the IEC 62075 framework covering the environmentally conscious design of AV and ICT equipment. The standard will encourage product designs which "promote resource efficiency and recycling", "reduce power consumption during…use", "reduce noise levels", and "avoid…use of hazardous materials".
Vertatique's comprehensive vision of ICT includes e-media infrastructures and practices. News Corporation one of the world's largest media empires, so the company is a logical one for us to track. We first began looking at NewsCorp in July 2006, when company executive (and chairman's son) James Murdoch talked about the media industry going green. Among his claims back then: NewsCorps' satellite broadcasting arm BSkyB is already "carbon neutral".
Communications is another area where we pay an energy/heat/carbon price for speed. IEEE Spectrum reported in 2008 that network interface controllers in computers and switching gear consume over 5 terawatt-hours per year in the United States alone. 1/Gb/s links consume 4W more than their 100 Mb/s counterparts and the upcoming 10 Gb/s link could consume 10-20W more. Fortunately, energy-efficient networking is receiving more attention as Green ICT expands beyond the data center.