iameco touchscreen computer
The aim of the iameco project was to research, design and manufacture a prototype desktop computer, demonstrating how eco-design can be practically and effectively applied to the development of an integrated desktop computer system. The result is the iameco v3 touchscreen computer, designed and manufactured by MicroPro Computers in Ireland. The device consumes one third of the power usage of other desktop computers and incorporates the most environmentally benign components in a fully reusable and ultimately recyclable chassis and housing with a design life of up to 10 years.
MicroPro was formed in 1991 and is based in Rathfarnham, Dublin, as a wholly Irish owned SME employing around 30 staff, mainly qualified engineers. MicroPro is predominantly a retail outlet and an ISO 9001 & ISO 14001 certified repair centre for all computer repairs, helping to extend the operational life of computer equipment.
The aim of the iameco project was to design a prototype for a PC with a reduced environmental impact and a longer life, that fully met the criteria set out by the European Eco-Label, and the Eco-Design of Energy Using Products Directive (EuP).
In addition to this, other Eco-design criteria were also considered key to success, including design for disassembly, material and resource efficiency, multi-functionality, elimination of obsolescence, the reduction of hazardous and polluting materials and reduction of waste. Designed in a modular way, the computer can be easily disassembled and repaired with standard components. Conventional screen lighting has been replaced with LED lighting, which is 30-40% more energy efficient, and the energy required to cool the PC is cut down by replacing the traditional fans for copper tubing and heat sinks.
The initial iameco prototype was analysed by a technical panel made up of the University of Limerick, Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering (UL ECE), the Fraunhofer Institute in Berlin and Tricom, a computer reuse company also based in Berlin. As a result of this extensive analysis, which included a simplified life cycle assessment of the product, a further prototype was designed and built by MicroPro in 2010. This informed the design of the final production version manufactured as the iameco v3, compliant with the Energy Star 5 standards and with the European Eco-Label.
The lessons learned in the project demonstrate that while small computer manufacturers are partly at a disadvantage as they have much less influence over their component suppliers when compared to their OEM counterparts, incorporating eco-design principles presents few technological barriers at a product design level. The project demonstrates how Eco-design has been practically and effectively applied to the development of an integrated desktop computer system.
Barriers and Drivers
Waste electronics and electrical equipment (WEEE) is the largest growing waste stream in the European Union, with the current 10 millions tonnes generated per year forecast to grow by a further 2 million tonnes per year by 2020 as electronic devices continue to become more ubiqitious in society.This market growth is further compounded by the short ownership lifecycles of many consumer devices, as the latest 'must have' model arriving on the market drives replacement of still fully function ICT devices. At present only 20% of WEEE is seperately collected for safe reprocessing to recover the valuable and / or environmentally damaging materials contained within laptops, mobile phones, batteries and other electronic devices.The remainder is disposed of in municipal waste or exported for example to China for recycling or to developing nations for reuse, although significant disposal subsequently occurs in these regions, without the environmental or personal safety measures mandatory in Europe.
Both factors are major drivers for the development of more sustainable electronics and the Iameco PC takes eco-friendly computers to a new level without compromising the high-performance specifications that today’s consumers demand.
Consumer expectations have limited the general uptake of eco products, often there has been a real or perceived compromise in quality, performance or appearance that has been unacceptable to the mainstream market. Therefore for a product with strong eco-credentials to succeed it is critical that it performs at least on a par with its peers in the non-environmental aspects also.
MicroPro has carried out preliminary projections of the likely national and international market for the product to establish its viability and export potential. The company's marketing strategy will be to capture the green procurement market initially in Ireland followed by Europe and globally after this, working with agents in the countries where it intends to expand operations, as a first step in entering these markets.
The award of the European Ecolabel, as achieved by this SME, has set the bar for other enterprises to follow in helping the transition to a more sustainable society.
The iameco v3 has been awarded the World’s First EU EcoLabel for Class B computers, which covers all integrated mid range desktop computers i.e. all integrated office and home computers.
The novel design and application of Life Cycle Analysis techniques has brought about a significant reduction in the materials used in the manufacture of the system housing:
• 98% of materials recyclable
• 20% materials reusable
• Hazardous materials reduced to a minimum
• Non-recyclable plastics eliminated
The fanless design achieves a typical energy consumption of 94 kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is 45% more efficient than the current Energy Star Standard for same class PCs
These eco-innovations together result in a carbon footprint of less than 360 kg CO2, meaning the iameco v3 has only 30% the footprint of a typical desktop PC & monitor.
NDP / EPA Cleaner Greener Production Programme (CGPP), Business Case Studies 2008-2012
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