Cooling the Cloud: Binghamton PhD Student Sets Sights on Improving Data-Center Efficiency

Read the full story from Binghampton University.

Data centers — large clusters of servers that power cloud computing operations, e-commerce and more — are one of the largest and fastest-growing consumers of electricity in the United States.

The industry has been shifting from open-air cooling of these facilities to increasingly complex systems that segregate hot air from cold air. When it comes to cost savings, there are definite advantages to the aisle containment systems, which have been estimated to save 30 percent of cooling energy — but it’s not yet clear how they increase the risk of overheating, or how to design them for greatest safety and optimum energy efficiency.

That’s what Husam Alissa, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering, is trying to determine at Binghamton University’s state-of-the-art Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2).


The Dark Side of Recycling Lighter Electronics

Read the full post at Waste360.

It seems that every year electronic devices are getting smaller and thinner, yet they pack in more functions and versatility. While this is great for consumers wanting the latest products, it has different consequences for those of us concerned about recycling electronics at their end of life.

Flame retardants may be coming off of furniture, but they’re still in your TV sets

Read the full story from The Guardian.

Consumers are often unaware of all the flame-retardant chemicals in and on electronics. While flaming laptops and even iPods – and recalls from manufacturers such as Dell, Apple, Lenovo, Toshiba and, more recently, Sony over fire safety fears – might help make the case for coating circuit boards with flame retardants, fierce debate is raging over whether they are necessary on the external plastic casings of items like televisions, stereos, computers, video game consoles and cellphones.

What will it take to put circular thinking into practice?

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Ever take apart a desktop printer? Myriad screws, metal sheets, coated wires, springs, fans, circuit boards and plastic shapes snap together. Wheels are tucked inside with a tightly-fused plastic cartridge holding ink or a laser. Easily a thousand pieces are in one simple desktop printer used in small offices.

Add up all of these individual parts and you get some real value.

Lots of electronic devices need tiny screws, springs, fans, metal, circuit boards and plastic casing.  If they were all made in standard sizes, then reusing them would be easy and a big cost saver — both for manufacturers and consumers.

Reusing the components of a desktop printer or a computer monitor, television, cell phone, etc., would keep those metal parts, wires, screws, springs and plastic casings out of landfills or avoid the toxic burning process that disassemblers resort to in the typically impoverished location where electronics recycling occurs.

Still, most consumer products — electronic or otherwise — are not designed for reuse in the remanufacturing of new things.  And most users don’t think much about what will happen to their old devices as they rush to buy the latest version.

Map of Life’s new app: The world’s biodiversity in the palm of your hand

Read the full story from Yale University.

Never has knowledge of the world’s biodiversity knowledge been more at your fingertips, thanks to a new smartphone app: the Map of Life. No matter where you are, the app can tell you what species of plants and animals are nearby.

Building on the Map of Life’s unrivaled, integrated global database of everything from bumblebees to trees, the app tells users in an instant which species are likely to be found in their vicinity. Photos and text help users identify and learn more about what they see. The app also helps users create personal lists of observations and contribute those to scientific research and conservation efforts.

Test your knowledge: The Secret Life of Electronics

How much do you know about the natural and human resources invested in your favorite electronic device? This learning module, developed by the Sustainable Electronics Initiative, covers the design, manufacturing, consumer use, and disposal/recovery of our electronic gadgets. You can also test your knowledge by taking a quiz.