Innovative Insole Uses Sweat Evaporation to Generate Power

As reported on Phys.org, researchers from the National University of Singapore have created a 3D printed prototype of a shoe insole that evaporates sweat faster than normal and uses the harvested moisture to generate energy:

“In our new invention, we created a novel film that is extremely effective in evaporating sweat from our skin and then absorbing the moisture from sweat. We also take this one step further—by converting the moisture from sweat into energy that could be used to power small wearable devices,” explained research team leader Assistant Professor Tan Swee Ching, who is from the NUS Department of Material Science and Engineering.

The main components of the novel thin film are two hygroscopic chemicals—cobalt chloride and ethanolamine. Besides being extremely moisture-absorbent, this film can rapidly release water when exposed to sunlight, and it can be ‘regenerated’ and reused for more than 100 times.

To make full use of the absorbed sweat, the NUS team has also designed a wearable energy harvesting device comprising eight electrochemical cells (ECs), using the novel film as the electrolyte. Each EC can generate about 0.57 volts of electricity upon absorbing moisture. The overall energy harvested by the device is sufficient to power a light-emitting diode. This proof-of-concept demonstration illustrates the potential of battery-less wearables powered using human sweat.”

This prototype is certainly interesting and has obvious potential for improving human comfort, confidence, and possibly health. It remains to be seen whether commercialization of the technology will be feasible and whether researchers develop effective ways to recycle the product at the end of its useful life. Conventional electronics are already a waste generation challenge, and wearable technology is notoriously difficult to recycle and a potential contaminant in recycling streams. Further, the incorporation of cobalt chloride in this product could prove problematic and detrimental to sustainable design, as continues to be the case for most electronics. Cobalt mining operations have been supported by child labor, so truly sustainable designs will strive to use reclaimed cobalt from the recycling of existing products for the preparation of cobalt compounds for the manufacture of new devices. It could be the case that innovations such as this one might reduce reliance on batteries, and thus reduce overall demand for cobalt, but any cobalt in a product supply chain must be scrutinized. We can only hope that the same innovativeness that leads to prototypes such as this insole can inspire researchers to continuously improve the overall sustainability of product design and end-of-life management.

Learn more:

Xueping Zhang et al, Super-hygroscopic film for wearables with dual functions of expediting sweat evaporation and energy harvesting, Nano Energy (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.nanoen.2020.104873

Apple and Google named in US lawsuit over Congolese child cobalt mining deaths

Cavusoglu, AH., Chen, X., Gentine, P. et al. Potential for natural evaporation as a reliable renewable energy resource. Nat Commun 8, 617 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-00581-w

 

Reminder: Manuscripts for Special Edition of Challenges Due 12/31/15

challenges-logoManuscripts are still being accepted for the special issue of the journal Challenges, entitled “Electronic Waste–Impact, Policy and Green Design.” 

From the issue’s rationale:

“Electronics are at the heart of an economic system that has brought many out of poverty and enhanced quality of life. In Western society in particular, our livelihoods, health, safety, and well being are positively impacted by electronics. However, there is growing evidence that our disposal of electronics is causing irreparable damage to the planet and to human health, as well as fueling social conflict and violence.

While global demand for these modern gadgets is increasing, policy to handle the increased volumes of electronic waste has not kept pace. International policy governing safe transfer, disposal, reclamation, and reuse of electronic waste is nonexistent or woefully lacking. Where laws do exist about exporting and importing hazardous waste, they are routinely circumvented and enforcement is spotty at best. While European Union countries lead the way in responsible recycling of electronic and electrical devices under various EU directives, most industrialized nations do not have such policies. In the U.S., for example, most electronic waste is still discarded in landfills or ground up for scrap.

It is imperative that we consider how green design practices can address the growing electronic waste problem. This special issue is meant to do just that and spur discussions on how electronic products can become greener and more sustainable.”

If you are interested in submitting a paper for this special issue, please send a title and short abstract (about 100 words) to the Challenges Editorial Office at challenges@mdpi.com, indicating the special issue for which it is to be considered. If the proposal is considered appropriate for the issue, you will be asked to submit a full paper. Complete instructions for authors and an online submission form for the completed manuscripts are available on the Challenges web site at http://www.mdpi.com/journal/challenges/special_issues/electronic-waste#info. The deadline for manuscript submissions is December 31, 2015. Questions may be addressed to co-guest editor Joy Scrogum.

State Electronics Challenge Webinars: 11/18 Recording Available, 12/2 Webinar Scheduled

SECIntroSlideCaptureOn November 18, 2014, SEI and the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR)  co-sponsored a webinar, “Introduction to the State Electronics Challenge.”

Lynn Rubinstein gave an overview of the State Electronics Challenge, a voluntary national program, free of charge and open to any state, tribal, regional, or local government agency, as well as any K-12 school or non-profit organization. The SEC promotes environmental stewardship of computers, monitors, and imaging equipment — from purchasing green office equipment through power management, paper use reduction, and responsible end-of-life management — resulting in measurable reductions in energy, greenhouse gases, solid and hazardous waste, and associated costs. The goal of the webinar was to illustrate how your organization can join the Challenge and benefit from the program’s proven free technical assistance, action plan, implementation tools, and environmental benefit calculations. Lynn provided information and examples specific to Illinois and the rest of the Great Lakes region of the US, for the information of members of both GLRPPR and the UI Sustainable Electronics Campus Consortium.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), SEI’s parent organization, has joined the SEC, as has Engineering IT Shared Services here on the UI campus.

If you wish to learn how your organization or unit can join, view the archived webinar, along with slides and links to supporting materials on the GLRPPR web site. Links are also available on the UI Sustainable Electronics Campus Consortium page.  You may also wish to register for a similar introductory webinar, scheduled for December 2, 2014 for 1-2 PM CST.

Energy & Electronics: 5 Issues You May Not Have Considered

October is Energy Awareness Month, so on this final day of the month, let’s pause a moment and consider energy and electronics. Here are five issues related to electronics and energy consumption that you may not have considered before, and some resources for further information on each.

1. Vampire Devices

It is Halloween, after all, so let’s talk about vampires. Vampire devices are those that draw power even when they’re turned off. This is known as standby power, and can sometimes be important for functionality (e.g. in the case of a clock display or timer in something like your DVR), but sometimes is simply wasted energy that results from leaving a power adapter or device plugged in. According to ENERGY Star, “The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off (or in standby mode). On a national basis, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs.” Scary!

2. Browsers & Batteries

Did you know that the life of your laptop battery could be affected by something as seemingly innocuous as your choice of Internet browser? Check out my previous post on this issue, which includes some tips for addressing it.

3. Energy Use–Now in 3D

The popularity and availability of 3D printing is exploding. There are many aspects of 3D printing that we really need to consider in terms of sustainability; I plan to write a blog post about these in the near future. For now let’s focus on the impacts of 3D printing in terms of energy consumption. In 2008, researchers at Loughborough University in the UK found that 3D printers that use heat or a laser to melt plastic consumed up to 100 times more electrical energy than traditional mass manufacturing to make an object of the same weight. And 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, using metal can be a different story altogether from printing with plastic. MIT’s Environmentally Benign Manufacturing Laboratory, headed by Tim Gutowski, has found that industrial printers that deposit and fuse metal power with high-energy beams (direct metal laser sintering) use hundreds of times the electricity per unit of metal than traditional manufacturing methods such as casting or machining. So if you’re just printing out a plastic squirrel for a science project at school, maybe 3D printing is fine, but mass production of say, little metal squirrel game pieces, might be best accomplished with traditional methods.

4. Powering the Internet of Things

Everyone seems to be talking about the “Internet of Things” and how it will revolutionize our culture. The idea is basically to have Internet capability built into virtually all everyday devices to improve your efficiency, make certain aspects of life more convenient and safe, etc. Examples might include wearable technology, smartphone apps that let you monitor and control conditions at your home while you’re out, structures that monitor environmental quality, and cars that drive or park for you. But how do we provide power for all of these constantly connected devices?

5. Embodied Energy

Embodied energy is all the energy that goes into the production of a product or service, and electronic devices have quite the embodied energy load. In fact many sources indicate that more energy is used in the production of electronics devices than in the use for their entire average lifespan. That’s why minimizing the number of devices you use, choosing to repair devices instead of replacing them, and buying used or refurbished devices are all important.

Champaign County Options for Electronics Recycling & Reuse

Pile of abandoned computers and monitors in empty school classroom.If you’re like most people, you probably have an old computer, laptop, or TV stashed in your basement, closet, or garage. It’s important to recycle these devices responsibly, as they contain both valuable materials (e.g. gold, copper, rare earth elements, etc.) and substances that could cause human and environmental health problems if improperly handled during disposal (e.g. lead, mercury, flame retardants, etc.). In fact, it’s against Illinois state law to dispose of certain electronics in landfills, so these items cannot be put in your household trash. To learn more about the Illinois Electronic Products Recycling & Reuse Act, see the Illinois EPA web site and the full text of the legislation at http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/95/SB/PDF/09500SB2313lv.pdf.

Where to take your stuff

Residents of Champaign County, IL are lucky to have multiple options for recycling of unwanted electronics. See the Champaign County Electronics Recycling Guide for the names and locations of local businesses that offer electronics recycling year-round, complete with contact information and any restrictions that apply.

Note that there are two local businesses, Best Buy at 2117 N. Prospect and Habitat ReStore at 119 E. University Avenue, which accept old cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and computer monitors. Best Buy accepts up to 3 TVs per household per day in store for free, provided screens are less than 32 inches in diameter. For CRT TVs over 32 inches and flat panels over 60 inches, Best Buy will haul the devices away from a customer’s home for free, only if they purchase a new TV from Best Buy. If a purchase from Best Buy is not made, the recycling service is still available, but for a $100 fee. Habitat ReStore accepts televisions or CRT monitors if a voucher is purchased for in-store use at a cost ranging from $10 to $50 per television or CRT monitor recycled, depending on size. (Goodwill will accept only flat screen TVs that are in good working order.) See the Champaign County Electronics Recycling Guide for complete details. Recycling of CRT TVs and computer monitors is becoming more difficult. Susan Monte, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, explains some of the reasons that electronics recyclers have stopped accepting TVs or tube monitors. “In Illinois, the statewide system for recycling and/or reuse of electronics items discarded from residences requires electronic manufacturers doing business in Illinois to participate in ‘end-of-life’ management of these electronic products. At this time, electronics manufacturers have met their pre-established quotas for pounds of electronics to recycle/reuse for the fiscal year, and they have stopped paying electronics recycling companies to recycle electronics items.” Televisions and cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors comprise nearly half of the electronics items brought to the residential collections. Expenses incurred by electronics recycling contractors to responsibly recycle televisions and CRT monitors far outweigh revenue.  In fact, Champaign County had planned to host an electronics recycling collection events for residents on October 11, 2014, but that event has been canceled because of the cost issue for the recycling contractor now that the manufacturer quota has been met. Monte says, “If electronics manufacturers doing business in Illinois continue to meet early quotas for pounds of electronics items collected, we may potentially plan for one or two Countywide Residential Electronics Collections to take place in the Champaign-Urbana area next spring.”  Be sure to check the county recycling guide to see if dates of upcoming events have been added (if so, they’ll be featured at the top of the document); alternatively you can always call the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission at 217-328-3313.

For information on battery recycling, check ISTC’s Battery Recycling LibGuide at http://uiuc.libguides.com/battery-recycling/cu.

For fluorescent lamps and CFLs, see the City of Urbana”Where Do I Recycle It?” page at http://urbanaillinois.us/residents/recycling-program-u-cycle/where-do-i-take-it and the City of Champaign Recycling guide at http://ci.champaign.il.us/cms/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Recycle-guide.pdf. Alternatively, you can order pre-paid mail kits (options for both CFLs & tubes) from

Can you repair devices or pass them on?

If your unwanted electronics still function please consider passing them on to friends or relatives, or donating them to an appropriate charity. If they have minor flaws or damage, check the iFixit web site to see if there are repair guides that you can follow to return get your device running again. (Yes, you can do it! I’ve had students work on iFixit guides as class projects. You don’t need to be a tech expert to repair something you own!) It’s important to extend the useful life of electronic devices for as long as possible before recycling them, because of the huge investment of human and natural resources that go into their manufacture in the first place. For example, did you know that the majority of energy used in the life cycle of a computer is in its production, not in the time it’s used by a consumer? (See http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=1299692&tag=1 and http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652611000801 for research on this subject.)

When in doubt, give Joy a shout

So be on the look out for county electronics collection events in the future, and in the meantime, check out the local business in the county recycling guide to avoid the lines. And if your device is unwanted rather than broken, or only slightly damaged, consider giving it a new home or repairing it before it’s sent for recycling. If you aren’t sure where or if you can recycle a device, you can also contact me at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. I’ll help steer you in the right direction.

Many thanks to Susan Monte for the update on the county collection event and for the county’s press release, from which her quotes are taken. Mentions of businesses in this post are for information only and should not be construed as endorsements.

Your Browser and Your Battery, or, Are You Wasting Time AND Power on the Internet?

Chrome logoYou’ve purchased the latest model, EPEAT gold registered laptop from your favorite brand (after combing through its corporate sustainability report and liking what you saw), adjusted all the power management settings for maximum energy conservation, and are feeling like a sustainability hero. Surely you’ve thought of everything to ensure you’re using power wisely while watching cat videos on YouTube, right? Well, kudos for your efforts, friend, but I’m afraid there may be a few other factors to consider, especially if Microsoft Windows is your operating system and you’re watching those videos whilst unplugged. Earlier this week, Ian Morris published an interesting article for Forbes that illustrates what your mother taught you about little things meaning a lot.

A chink in Chrome’s finish

In his article, Google’s Chrome Web Browser Is Killing Your Laptop Battery, Morris discusses a phenomenon which, if you’re like me, you’ve never heard of, or considered previously. The “system clock tick rate” saves power by allowing the processor to sleep when nothing needs attention, and waking it at predefined intervals to check on things. Imagine a guard dog that takes naps to save its strength but wakes up every minute or so to check the perimeter–vigilant, but frugal with its energy. If your processor were our hypothetical guard dog, the “system clock tick rate” would be the alarm clock your Internet browser uses to regulate the dog’s naps, waking him regularly after a set amount of time. Windows itself has a default setting for this hypothetical alarm clock, but Internet browsers can adjust the setting while they’re in use, because sometimes your processor needs to be more active to perform more complex tasks online, like watching videos (watching cat videos on YouTube may seem mindless, but it’s a little more complex from the perspective of your processor).

According to Morris, the default system clock tick rate setting in Windows is 15.625ms. This translates to the processor waking 64 times per second to attend to tasks. When you use browsers like Internet Explorer or Firefox, that default setting stays in place, unless the content you’re browsing requires more processing “oomph,” at which time the browser adjusts the tick rate to wake the processor more frequently. Cue the cat video, decrease the tick rate to handle it. (Come to think of it, our hypothetical guard dog might be interested in those cat videos, purely for training purposes.) Sure, to a human, waking 64 times per second sounds horrific, and fits our perception of every morning on which we’ve slapped at the snooze button multiple times, avoiding the inevitable. But for a processor, it’s nothing taxing. The adjustment to a tick rate of 1.000ms, made to watch your video however, means the processor wakes up 1000 times per second, and if it were human, it would probably want to throw its alarm clock through the nearest window.

Enter the flaw in Chrome’s design, as explained by Morris. When you open Chrome, it immediately adjusts the system clock tick rate to 1.000ms–and keeps it there. Someone put Red Bull in our guard dog’s water dish. Morris notes that “Microsoft itself says that tick rates of 1.000ms might increase power consumption by ‘as much as 25 per cent.’ It’s also a problem because, by its very nature, the system tick rate is global, meaning that one application is able to spoil everything…”

As Morris makes clear, although having Chrome open makes a measurable difference in power consumption, if you’re using your desktop computer, it might not be a big problem (at least functionally). But if you’re on a laptop or other battery dependent device, the difference is important. Of course, if you’re not using Windows, you don’t have to worry, because Macs and Linux Machines, for example, use something called “tickless timers.” Yeah, I didn’t know what that meant either, so I looked it up. The question board at Stackoverflow.com addresses this; admittedly I’m still not sure I get it, but basically it seems like “tickless” systems don’t use predetermined intervals to wake the processor and are more dynamically connected to tasks that are running. (If you’re a programmer and can explain this more clearly for a non-technical audience, please feel free to do so in the comments section of this blog.) It’s also interesting to note that according to this site, Windows 8 may also be considered “tickless”–so it could also matter which version of an operating system you’re using.

Google is aware of the bug, according to Morris, but he still has encouraged readers to “star” the issue on Google’s online bug tracker to underscore consumer desire to have the issue fixed. From some of the comments on this online bug laptop batterytracker, it seems as if this problem does occur with Windows 8, but I wanted to keep the possibility on the table that versions of operating systems could also come into play.

Which browser is best?

Intrigued by the connection between browser choice and battery life, I did a little poking around on the Internet to see what other information I could find (I use Firefox–no worries). On the 7Tutorials blog, Ciprian Adrian Rusen describes tests he ran on four different browsers (Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 26, Chrome 32 and Opera 18) on three different devices in a Windows 8.1 environment in his article Which Internet Browser Will Make Your Battery Last Longer? Rusen used an online browser assessment tool called Peacekeeper from Futuremark (go to http://peacekeeper.futuremark.com/ and scroll down to “run battery test”). Rusen found that IE 11 does the best job of extending battery life on a laptop or tablet. Keep in mind, we’re focusing on battery-dependent devices here, not desktops. “However, which version delivers the most savings depends on your device’s hardware configuration and how well Internet Explorer works with it,” he notes. I’d also argue that user behavior and the types of sites visited factors in as well. The Peacekeeper test seems to run your device through a wide variety of processing scenarios; I’d think that if one particular type of scenario were encountered more often than others, it might matter (e.g. are you watching cat videos non-stop, or only part of the time?). Also, some folks keep their browser open all the time for one reason or another–Morris notes that he does because he uses Gmail as his main email program. Others might only occasionally open their browser. So, I think it’s tough to give a sweeping recommendation, other than to say if you’re using a battery, consider using a browser other than Chrome, or at least, if you’re a huge Chrome fan, be aware of the issue and consider closing your browser regularly. If you really want to dive into this, you could run the Peacekeeper test on your device of choice, using different browsers, and see what happens.

To tab or not to tab

I’ve heard it suggested that each tab one has opened increases the amount of power you’re using, so if you’re leaving a bunch of tabs open all the time, you’re potentially wasting energy. Again, my inquiring mind wanted to know, so I poked around where else, but on the Internet. In Wired’s Dot Physics Blog, Rhett Allain analyses the effect of the number of open browser tabs on laptop battery life. His testing involved two laptops (he doesn’t specify make and model) on Safari, Chrome, and Firefox all in Mac OS X 10.8 (he also doesn’t specify the version f these browsers used). While more tabs does mean more power, according to Allain you would have to have a ridiculous number of tabs open–100 to be exact–to reduce your battery life by 1 hour. In order to reduce your battery life to 1 minute, you’d need a whopping 24,000 tabs open. You can’t properly pay attention to that many cat videos, so odds are, you needn’t worry about your tabs too much. Although again, I’d suggest that if you’re not using a tab, or not actively using your browser, close it down.

So what have we learned?

  • Saving energy when using electronics is not as straightforward as you might imagine. The type of device you’re using, your operating system, your browser, and the way you use it can all come into play.
  • While there are plenty of positive attributes of Chrome, if you use Windows you might want to consider using a different browser, or at least minimizing the amount of time you keep your browser open, when using a battery dependent device. At least until Google fixes the glitch.
  • The number of tabs you have open probably doesn’t matter when it comes to battery life. But closing inactive tabs and thereby saving a miniscule amount of power isn’t going to hurt anyone.
  • There are folks out there who know a lot more about things like battery life than you or me. Thank goodness for them, and for their attention to detail!
  • Futuremark offers a free tool which you can use to determine which browser performs best on your device. They also have a nifty tool for testing battery life with your browser. Check both out at http://peacekeeper.futuremark.com/.
  • Bonus info: If you want tips on extending the longevity of your laptop battery in general, check out How to Take Care of Your Laptop Battery the Right Way by David Nield.
  • Now that you’ve gone above and beyond to avoid wasting power while browsing the Internet, there are still ample ways to waste time. For example, did you know there’s a woman who has become a YouTube celebrity of sorts by filming her cat in a shark costume, riding a Roomba? Now you do–extra bonus info!

Game Consoles & Energy Efficiency–Level Failed?

According to a new issue brief from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the latest-generation game consoles will use enough electricity to cost US consumers $1 billion annually, despite incorporation of some energy-saving design features, such as better power scaling and transitioning automatically to a lower-power state after an extended period of user inactivity. A significant portion of that cost (around $400 million) will be spent when the consoles are in “standby” or sleep mode. The amount of electricity used by these consoles is equivalent to the amount used in all household within the city of Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in the US.

With funding from the US EPA, NRDC followed up on its 2008 report on the energy use of video game consoles, performing laboratory tests on the most popular consoles, including the Nintendo Wii U, Sony PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Xbox One. Follow this link to access the updated issue paper, available on the NRDC website. Results show the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One use two to three times more annual energy than the most recent models of their predecessors. The Wii U consumes less energy than its predecessor (the Wii) while providing higher definition graphics and processing capabilities, thanks largely to is low power use in connected standby mode.

Other key findings include:

  • The new consoles consume more energy each year playing video or in standby mode than playing games.
  • While the new versions are more powerful, the two- to three-fold increase in energy use is due to higher power demand in standby and on modes and, in the case of the Xbox One, more time switched on due to its TV viewing mode. In this mode, the console is used in addition to the current set-top box to access cable or satellite TV, adding 72 watts to TV viewing.
  • The Xbox One draws less power than the PS4 in on mode. However, the Xbox One consumes a lot more energy when not in use (connected standby mode).
  • Nearly half of the Xbox One’s annual energy is consumed in connected standby, when the console continuously draws more than 15 watts while waiting for the user to say “Xbox on,” even in the middle of the night or during the workday when no one is home.
  • The PS4 and Xbox One are very inefficient when playing movies, using 30 to 45 times more power to stream a movie than a dedicated Apple TV or Google Chromecast.

NRDC recommends improvements that console manufacturers could make to reduce the energy consumption of game consoles, and at the end of the aforementioned issue brief, they provide tips for gamers to make changes in their new console settings to reduce energy consumption in the meantime.

Author Pierre Delforge notes in his blog “Testing was performed on launch units with system updates up to mid-April 2014. The effects of any system updates and hardware improvements released after that date are not reflected in the report. We just heard from Sony that new PS4s sold with the 1.70 software version released on April 30, 2014, reduce the default auto-power down time from two hours to one, and include a TV screen-dimming feature. We applaud Sony for these energy-saving improvements and encourage them to implement our other recommendations as soon as possible.”

See the ENERGY STAR Game Console Version 1.0 Recognition Program information at http://www.energystar.gov/products/specs/node/146. While this program is in effect, there do not seem to be any certified game consoles currently listed on the ENERGY STAR web site (http://www.energystar.gov/certified-products/certified-products?c=products.pr_find_es_products).

See also ENERGY STAR’s information on ‘Standby Power and Energy Vampires,” as well as the “How Vampire Power Works” over on the How Stuff Works website.

 

International Sustainable Electronics Competition: Sponsorship Opportunities

Donations are being accepted to support the International Sustainable Electronics Competition, part of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). These donations are used for cash prizes in the competiiton and program administrative costs. There are five sponsorship levels: “Friend” is for donations up to $99; “Bronze” signifies gifts of $100 to $499; “Silver” donations are from $500 to $1499; “Gold” sponsors have provided $1500 to $4999 in support; and “Platinum” designates sponsors that have contributed $5000 or more. As a donor, you will be acknowledged on the competition web site unless you wish to remain anonymous. Corporations and organizations will have their logos and a link to their web site featured on the competition web site.

The competition began in 2009 as a local event on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and grew out of a class on e-waste issues taught by UIUC industrial design professor William Bullock. Participants focused on reuse of electronic scrap to make new products that first year. The event became international in 2010 with submission and judging occurring online. This continues currently, with entries including a brief YouTube video of the concept, among other requirements. The competition categories have evolved over time to include prevention as well as reuse, and for 2013, the categories have changed to “Product” and “Non-Product” to make the multidisciplinary nature and whole life-cycle focus of SEI more apparent. See our previous post, “International Sustainable Electronics Competition: New Name, New Categories, New Criteria” for further information on the changes for 2013 and the competition web site for complete rules, requirements, and videos for previous years’ winners. Also, check out the recently finalized list of expert jurors for 2013.

Each year, SEI staff members are amazed and inspired by the interesting and innovative ideas put forth by competition participants. It makes us proud to be part of this unique educational experience, which prompts college students and recent graduates throughout the world–society’s future leaders–to learn about and propose solutions for the environmental and social issues associated with our ubiquitous electronic devices. So consider even a modest $15 donation to show your support for inspiring students to conceive of new, more environmentally responsible ways to design, manufacture, use, and manage electronics. Contact Joy Scrogum (217-333-8948) for more information or see http://www.ewaste.illinois.edu/sponsors.cfm.

Jury Finalized for 2013 International Sustainable Electronics Competition

 The jurors for this year’s International Sustainable Electronics Competition (formerly known as the International E-Waste Design Competition) have been announced. Returning again this year are past participants Bill Olson, Director of the Office of Sustainability and Stewardship for Mobile Devices Business, Motorola, Inc., and Jason Linnell, Executive Director of the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER). They are joined this year by: UIUC alum and President of HOBI International, Inc., Craig Boswell; competition founder, UIUC Professor of Industrial Design in the School of Art + Design and ISTC Affiliated Faculty Scientist, William Bullock; Executive Director of the Northeast Recycling Council and Program Manager for the State Electronics Challenge, Lynn Rubinstein; and CEO of iFixit and Dozuki, Kyle Wiens. For complete juror bios, see http://www.ewaste.illinois.edu/judges.cfm.

Registration is free and opens September 1, 2013. Participants are asked to explore solutions to remediate the existing e-waste problem, prevent e-waste generation in the future, and foster a more sustainable system for electronic device development, use, and management. Submissions include a project description, brief YouTube video, and bibliography. See the competition Rules for complete details on eligibility, categories, judging criteria, and submission requirements. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three entries in each of two categories. For more information on participating, incorporating the competition into a class, or sponsoring the competition, contact Joy Scrogum via email or at 217-333-8948.

International Sustainable Electronics Competition: New Name, New Categories, New Criteria

The International E-Waste Design Competition has changed its name, categories, & judging criteria. The competition, now known as the International Sustainable Electronics Competition, is part of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). It originated in 2009, when it emerged from a class on e-waste issues taught by industrial design Professor William Bullock, an affiliated faculty scientist at ISTC. The competition was focused entirely on reuse of electronic scrap during that first year. What began as a local UIUC event became an international competition in 2010, with submissions being made online by college students and recent graduates from around the world. The competition has evolved a bit each year, and grew to incorporate the entire life cycle of electronics, rather than focusing solely on reuse. Organizers noticed that recent entries seemed to incorporate both prevention of e-waste generation (through design modifications to extend the useful product life cycle of electronic devices) and reuse of electronic scrap, regardless of whether or not they were submitted for the “Prevention” or “Reuse” category. So for 2013, categories have been changed to “Product” and “Non-Product,” with the concepts of prevention and reuse integrated throughout the revised judging criteria. The new name and judging criteria are part of the continuing effort to better focus the competition on ideas for a sustainable system for the design, manufacturing, use, and end-of-life management for electronics. The competition has always been open to students in any discipline, but most entries were from engineering or industrial design students. The new categories will make the multidisciplinary nature of the competition more apparent, as “non-product” entries could more obviously be made by students from other fields.

To learn more about the competition and new categories, visit www.ewaste.illinois.edu. Entries include, among other elements, a brief project description paper and YouTube video summarizing the concept. Expert jurors award cash prizes to the top three projects in each category. Registration is free and will open on September 1, 2013. For more information, contact Joy Scrogum at jscrogum@illinois.edu or 217-333-8948.