Chemical batteries have a host of life-cycle sustainability issues, so ICT manufacturers and practitioners are constantly looking to innovate in this area. I've previously taken a look at alternatives to chemical batteries in ICT facilities and infrastructures. What about e-gear? Mitigate, more than eliminate, is the current state of practice.
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.
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".
All the naturally-occurring elements in the universe are forged in the cosmic fusion reactors we call stars. This is true of the atoms in our our bodies and of those in our e-gear. We are truly stardust.
The process of fusing atomic nuclei together to form ever-more-complex atoms is called 'nucleosynthesis'. Average stars like our sun can power basic reactions like fusing hydrogen into helium.
Here is a summary of studies on the e-delivery of software, movies, music, and books, compared with physical delivery, based on three studies from 2009.
Power use trends from 2003 to 2010 show a marked reduction, primarily in Active mode but in Standby mode as well. For LCD TVs, the Active mode power density dropped from 0.35 W/in2 in 2003 to 0.13 W/in2 in 2010, representing a 63 percent decrease; for Standby mode it dropped from a high of 6.1 mW/in2 in 2004 to 0.77 mW/in2 in 2010, representing an 87 percent decrease. In plasma TVs, for Active mode it dropped from 0.22 W/in2 in 2008 to 0.13 W/in2 in 2010, representing a 41 percent decrease; for Standby mode it dropped from 0.46 mW/in2 in 2008 to 0.07 mW/in2 in 2010, representing an 85 percent decrease.
Pike Research's Sustainable Electronics Design report forecasts that "while sustainability efforts are already impacting the shipment of approximately 68 billion electronic product units as of 2010, this number will increase by more than 50% to 103 billion units by 2015."
Vertatique has been covering the issue of 'vampire' devices: e-gear that sucks power at night and other times when we think the gear is 'off'. As devices proliferate in the home and office, this becomes an increasing bigger energy drain, even as manufactures and regulators work to (slowly) reduce vampire consumption in some of them. New devices they say it are zero-draw solutions for one class of vampire devices: those ubiquitous bricks (chargers and adapters) into which we plug our e-gear.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports "A group of seven graduate students, from Stanford University and Finland’s Aalto University, created a prototype of a recyclable laptop…the Bloom laptop…is made mostly of materials that can be recycled alongside ordinary household items, like metal, plastic, and glass. Materials like LCD screens and circuit boards, which need to be sent to specialized recycling facilities, can be easily separated in a few steps."