Is this tablet PC the world's most eco-friendly?

Posted by Kate Taylor

With Samsung and Apple slugging it out over whether their tablet PCs look identical or not, Irish engineers have developed something decidedly different.

MicroPro's wooden tablet PC, the Iameco, is claimed to have a carbon footprint that's 70 percent less than normal, and is 98 percent recyclable.

"This touch-screen PC has a very low energy consumption over the entire lifecycle of the unit – starting from production, through the use phase to its ultimate recycling," says Alexander Schlösser, scientist at co-developer IZM.

In a move which not only reduces the carbon footprint but also gets rid of an annoying buzz, the PC uses heatsinks and copper tubes instead of fans for cooling.

The team also got creative with the display lighting, using LEDs instead of conventional lighting to improve energy efficiency by 30 to 40 percent.

Of the materials used, 98 percent can be recycled. Indeed, 20 percent of the computer can be recycled immediately – in other words, many parts and components can be reused for repairing other computers – such as parts of the wooden frame.

Hazardous materials have been reduced to a minimum, with halogenated flame retardants mostly replaced with chemicals that are less harmful to the environment.

All in all, says the team, the carbon footprint of the Iameco is less than 360 kilograms CO2eq over the full product life cycle - 70 percent less than a typical desktop PC with monitor.

The machine's been designed with standard components, so it can be upgraded easily - indeed, say the developers, it should soon be possible to strip out all the innards and replace them in one go, effectively upgrading to the latest technology at half the usual cost.

And for anyone worried that a tablet is just too modern-looking, the team's now working on a wooden laptop.