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 Post subject: Energy / ressources going into the manufacturing of a comput
PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 8:23 am 
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Location: ottawa
Hi!

Is there any way to find out (even only approximatively) how much manufacturing a cpu/mobo/hdd/etc.. requires ? (energy, metals, water, etc..)

thanks


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:08 pm 
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Figuring out the embodied energy and other resource use of any computer part is exceedingly difficult. There are so many manufacturers producing so many different components, all using slightly different methods. On top of this, a lot of steps of manufacturing processes that the details of which are kept secret. There are thousands of variables, even when producing something relatively simple as a stick of RAM.

With that said, there have been a couple of studies done that provide an estimate of the embodied energy of a computer (none of which I can find right now).

It is a topic that interests me a lot, but there really isn't a lot of publicity available info on the subject right now. No manufacturer has posted their own analysis, as far as I know. I've been meaning to take a stab at it myself, but I haven't really had time. When I get around to it, I'll be sure to post what I find here in the forums.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:15 pm 
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This is an interesting question. Like what is the energy spent 'envelope' for an entire desktop PC? 1 kWh? 1000 kWh?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:42 pm 
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Strid,
One kilogram of sheet aluminum has an embodied energy of ~89 kWh, and steel is about a fifth of that. Glass and plastic are an order of magnitude smaller again.

You could do a rough estimate by estimating how much of your computer is each of those basic components, and then adding what you think the processing and transportation energy costs are. For comparison, a computer running at 150W 24/7 for five years will use ~6.57 MWh.

Right now, my best guess is that the total embodied energy of a desktop computer will be on the order of about 10 MWh.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 7:50 pm 
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Blue_Sky wrote:
Strid,
One kilogram of sheet aluminum has an embodied energy of ~89 kWh, and steel is about a fifth of that. Glass and plastic are an order of magnitude smaller again.

You could do a rough estimate by estimating how much of your computer is each of those basic components, and then adding what you think the processing and transportation energy costs are. For comparison, a computer running at 150W 24/7 for five years will use ~6.57 MWh.

Right now, my best guess is that the total embodied energy of a desktop computer will be on the order of about 10 MWh.


Blue sky : thanks for the reply. If you ever get those numbers I'd be *very* interested to see them.

---
As for the 10 MWh to build a desktop, I must say I doubt it is that much.

Here's why:

What do you think manufacturers pay for energy? Let's assume it's 100% electricity, and they only pay 0.05$ per KWh.

10 MWh @ 0.05 $ / KWh = 500$ of embedded energy / desktop. My new LE-1200 desktop cost me half that...

But then again, averaging over many..
who knows.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 8:57 pm 
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morglum,
You've come across an aspect of the problem that doesn't make sense to me either. The general consensus of the studies that had read was that about two thirds of the total energy use of a computer occurred before it was turned on for the first time (I still can't find them - google scholar isn't returning anything relevant , I'll post links when I find them). I believe that they used a relatively long life, as opposed to the two years cited by the US. EPA. If I am mistaken and they used EPA numbers, we are looking at an embodied energy around 2-3 MWh.

One thing that you should note is that most of the energy input is thermal or mechanical energy, not electrical energy. Thermal energy is much cheaper than electricity.

As I said earlier, 10 MWh is only a guess. I could really be off by vast margin.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:25 am 
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As was pointed out, energy costs money. The best rule of thumb is that the more money you spend on manufactured goods, the more of an environmental impact it has. There's exceptions, yes, but it's still a very good general rule.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:40 am 
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AZBrandon wrote:
As was pointed out, energy costs money. The best rule of thumb is that the more money you spend on manufactured goods, the more of an environmental impact it has. There's exceptions, yes, but it's still a very good general rule.


All true.

But the external cost of the polluted water and toxic waste is not passed on to the customers, due to lax policing in the countries where computers are being manufactured.

I'd like to know energy used, but also how much m^3 of water, Hg, etc...


-------------------------
(cross post from another thread)
---------------------------

found one study that says 7320 MJ ( divide by 3600 for MWh)


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