In the media

Repairable computers could help save the planet, experts say

By Sascha Brodsky


17 December 2021

John Edson, US Head of Design and Engineering at PA Consulting, comments on Dell’s new Project Luna laptop concept which is designed to reduce waste by being repairable.

Click here to read the full Lifewire article

Dell has announced a new design concept for a laptop that has a long life and is easy to repair. Experts say repairable electronics could take less of a toll on the planet by reducing waste. 

A Fixable Laptop

Dell wants to reinvent the disposable mindset with its Concept Luna design, which is intended to make repair and maintenance a breeze. 

The Luna laptop doesn’t even need screwdrivers or glue to pull off a broken keyboard or remove a cracked screen, as they simply pop off if you remove a bunch of fasteners. The design also lacks a fan and instead uses a smaller motherboard placed within so the laptop can cool itself.

Motherboards can be one of the most energy-intense components to manufacture, Glen Robson, the CTO for Dell Technologies' Client Solutions Group, wrote in the announcement. By shrinking the motherboard's total area by approximately 75 percent and component count by roughly 20 percent, the carbon footprint of the motherboard could be reduced by 50 percent, he said. 

The Luna concept also uses a new bio-based printed circuit board (PCB) made with flax fiber in the base and water-soluble polymer as the glue. The flax fiber replaces traditional plastic laminates. And the water-soluble polymer can dissolve so recyclers can more easily separate metals and components from the boards. 

Renew, Not Dispose

China manufactures about 70 percent of laptops globally, with factories typically powered by coal, which releases high amounts of carbon emissions, according to environmental advocacy group Mossy Earth. When you factor in carbon emissions from transporting the finished device to your home, the manufacturing of just one laptop creates around 214 kilograms of CO2.

While observers lauded Dell's Luna concept, they said that more needs to be done to make electronics repairable. 

Microsoft recently committed to providing repair parts and manuals. Apple also has said that it would also make DIY repairs easier. 

John said: Computers get replaced, on average, every three years. Highly repairable cars get almost triple that lifespan, with an average replacement at eight-and-a-half years. "Awareness creates change, and new products often create new awareness."


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