On Tuesday, Dell announced a new design concept for a laptop that’s long lived, easy to take apart and fix, and takes a smaller toll on the climate. The Verge reports: Called “Concept Luna,” the proof-of-concept laptop dreamed up by Dell’s design team has a number of unusual features that are intended to make repair and maintenance easy. No screwdrivers or glue solvents are needed to pry loose a broken keyboard or peel off a cracked screen; both components simply pop free after a pair of keystones holding them in place are removed. The entire system contains far fewer screws than a typical Dell laptop, reducing the time needed to replace components. And you’ll never have to worry about replacing a broken fan, because there isn’t one: a shrunken-down motherboard placed in the top cover allows the laptop to passively cool itself.
Dell design strategist Drew Tosh described Luna as a “front end concept” intended to “solve some of the larger problems we’re trying to get ahead of in the future,” namely e-waste and climate change. A laptop that is easy to repair and upgrade is less likely to be replaced with a new one that takes yet more energy and resources to produce. When that computer eventually does stop working, parts can be harvested to live on in other machines rather than winding up as toxic trash in landfills. […] “We’re really focused on reuse and recycle,” Tosh told The Verge. “And really, it would be more like reuse, reuse, reuse, and recycle only when we really have to.” So far, only several prototype versions of this laptop exist. But the design Dell is showing off is as sleek and portable as any laptop in the company’s current lineup.
Other ideas in Concept Luna are more focused on the climate impact of electronics. The aluminum in the chassis is smelted using hydropower energy, replacing what is often one of the dirtiest manufacturing steps with a low-carbon alternative. The motherboard is a quarter the size of the board in the Latitude 7300 AE, and according to Dell, it could have a 50 percent smaller carbon footprint. A life cycle analysis of the Latitude 7300 AE found that manufacturing accounted for 65 percent of the device’s climate impact and printed wire boards were the most energy-intensive components to make. Considering Dell’s leading position in the global laptop market, this level of carbon cutting on an individual parts basis could translate to significant reductions across the industry. Another key factor determining how long lived any laptop will be is the availability of spare parts for repair — most importantly, screens and batteries […]. [I]ndividuals can already order “tens of thousands” of spare parts from Dell, including replacement screens and batteries, however, these components are often unavailable for purchase online. [I]ncreasing the number of spare parts customers can buy online is “something we are working on right now.”