Pushing the Boundaries of Sustainable PC Design: Concept Luna

How design can accelerate reuse of products and materials, reducing waste and emissions for the future.

What if? That’s the starting point for every design decision we make at Dell Technologies – and how we push ourselves to not only create great products but also technology which addresses complex societal challenges. And with growing concerns about the climate crisis, e-waste and resource constraints, the question driving us is “What if we could push reuse to the limit and dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of our products?”

The commitments we have made to deliver positive environmental impact span decades and involve our entire company. And our ambitious goals to accelerate the circular economy and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions have never been more mission critical.

Product design plays a big role in realizing both of these goals. Our current circular design practices continue to drive leadership across our product portfolio in pursuit of these goals. In the last year alone we introduced closed-loop aluminum from out of use hard drives, bioplastics made from tree waste in the paper making process and scaled our use of reclaimed carbon fiber to over 1.2 million pounds. But we need to find new keys to open new doors to get us there faster. Last year we shared our vision for a parallel innovation workstream to accelerate circular design and today we’re sharing the first prototype from these efforts: Concept Luna.

A proof-of-concept developed in collaboration with Intel, Concept Luna explores revolutionary design ideas to make components immediately accessible, replaceable and reusable—reducing resource use and keeping even more circular materials in the economy. It was created to test what could be possible, not to be manufactured and sold. But if all the design ideas in Concept Luna were realized, we could expect to see an estimated 50% reduction in overall product carbon footprint.1

Here’s why we’re excited about Concept Luna:

A reduced product carbon footprint: We looked at brand new ways to increase energy efficiency, deliver better power and cooling and experimented with materials that have a smaller carbon footprint to help deliver a more decarbonized device.

  • Motherboards can be one of the most energy intense components to manufacture – by shrinking its total area by approximately 75% (now smaller than 5,580 mm2)2 and component count by approximately 20%,3 we estimate the carbon footprint of the motherboard could be reduced by 50%.4
  • We completely reconsidered the layout of all internal components – relocating that smaller motherboard to the top cover puts it closer to a larger surface area exposed to the cooler air outside. This, combined with separating it from the battery charging unit in the base, leads to better passive heat distribution and could totally eliminate the need for a fan.
  • These efficiencies could significantly reduce the overall power needs – making way for a smaller battery with advanced deep-cycle cells that is still powerful enough for daily use.
  • An aluminum chassis processed using hydro power and using a stamped aluminum construction requires less energy and produces minimal scrap.

A future vision of reuse, repair and recreating: Our position is simple. We need to move from use, then recycle – to use, reuse multiple times and then recycle when the material is no longer usable in its original form. This iteration of Concept Luna does just that. It shows a vision for what could be.

  • We’ve reduced the number of screws needed to access internal components for repair or reuse from hundreds to just four – reducing time for repairs (to disassemble, repair and reassemble key components) by approximately 1.5 hours.5
  • The palmrest assembly is intentionally designed for ease of repair and reuse. The keyboard mechanisms provide clean, easy separation from other components and simplify recycling.
  • The advanced deep-cycle cell battery provides a long charge that can be maintained across many years of use, increasing refurbishment and reuse beyond the first product life it services.
  • A new bio-based printed circuit board (PCB) is made with flax fiber in the base and water-soluble polymer as the glue. What’s noteworthy here is that the flax fiber replaces traditional plastic laminates. And even better, the water-soluble polymer can dissolve – meaning recyclers can more easily separate metals and components from the boards.

Concept Luna is a strong example of how we are exploring new ways to dramatically accelerate progress against our goals. Proving what might be possible is only the first step, the next is to take these innovative sustainable design ideas and evaluate which have the greatest potential to scale across our product portfolio. This concept, and future iterations and others that follow, are how we will build on the existing circular economy leadership you see across our product portfolio today to examine, re-examine and reconsider every step of the product lifecycle, to deliver even more sustainable products in the future.

1 Baseline used for comparisons is Dell Latitude 7300 Anniversary Edition

2 Compared to Latitude 7300 AE; the main board is also 17% smaller than Intel’s AEP design (their most aggressive/smallest ADL-M implementation)

3 Reduced component count based on the smallest implementation of AlderLake-M (ADL-M) platform

4 Baseline used for comparisons is Dell Latitude 7300 Anniversary Edition

5 Baseline used for comparisons is Dell Latitude 7300 Anniversary Edition

About the Author: Glen Robson

Glen Robson is the CTO for Dell Technologies’ Client Solutions Group, where he leads the Experience Innovation Group comprised of Design, Architecture, Technology and Strategy teams. He returned to Dell after serving for three years as EVP, Global Head of Solutions at Verifone. Prior to joining Verifone, Glen spent the previous 10 years at Dell working in both Austin, Texas and Taipei, Taiwan and successfully led the transformation of our SMB and Consumer Notebooks divisions. In addition to leading Engineering and Product organizations for both Dell and Sun Microsystems, he was also part of a successful start-up in the UK developing fault-tolerant computer systems. A native of Scotland, Glen holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of Kent at Canterbury, England.