Dell’s Concept Luna could be a glimpse of future green-friendly laptops

Dell Precision 7560 Workstation
(Image credit: Dell)

Dell has revealed Concept Luna, a new prototype for a sustainable laptop that maximizes key aspects such as easy repairs and reusability of components, as well as reducing overall carbon footprint in terms of its production.

Concept Luna is a proof-of-concept which Dell has worked on in conjunction with Intel, and note that it’s not a laptop which will be made – it’s merely a concept to see what might be possible if PC makers pushed forward along these lines.

Key facets of the design in terms of providing better repairability – which is crucial for extending a device’s lifespan, and therefore eco-friendliness – include vastly reducing the number of screws used. In fact, with the Concept Luna design, only four screws need undoing to get to the internal components, streamlining any repairs (or scavenging operations for reusing parts) considerably.

Dell has also put forward the idea of a new (bio-based) PCB made from flax fiber (rather than plastic) in the base, with a water-soluble polymer used as glue. In other words, unlike the usual glue often found – and overused – in too much hardware these days, this stuff can be easily dissolved with water.

On the battery front, there’s an “advanced deep-cycle cell battery” that’s designed to last across “many years” of usage, so it can be reused in another device once its original hardware has died.

The broad idea with the easy accessibility and it being simple to remove components is that these can all be removed from a piece of hardware which has died, and then reused in another device (and so on, going forward – for the lifespan of the components, naturally).

Treading lightly

Forging forward with reducing the carbon footprint of the product includes shrinking the size of the motherboard by around 75%, as this is one of the biggest energy-using components to make, Dell notes.

The number of components inside the machine is also reduced by around 20% in the concept device, and the layout of the internal hardware is optimized for better cooling (putting the motherboard in the top cover of the notebook, meaning the display section, so it’s against a large surface area cooled by the outside air, to help with passive cooling). These various cooling efficiency measures will help with overall power consumption, meaning a smaller battery can be used, and the machine can rely totally on passive cooling rather than needing a fan.

That chassis, incidentally, is an aluminum affair made using a stamped aluminum construction (and hydro power) to reduce energy usage in the production process.

Dell states: “If all the design ideas in Concept Luna were realized, we could expect to see an estimated 50% reduction in overall product carbon footprint.” (That’s compared to the current Dell Latitude 7300 Anniversary Edition, incidentally).

Analysis: The gap between concept and practical implementation

Even if this is just a concept, it’s an impressive sounding piece of work, and points to the kind of progress we can expect to be made in terms of PC manufacturing becoming more eco-friendly. Of course, the impact of manufacturing is coming increasingly under the microscope these days given climate change (and of course the recent COP26 summit).

On the other hand, while Luna sounds like it brings forth some truly laudable ideas, the actual practical application of some of the measures – without any meaningful trade-offs or compromises, particularly in the relocation of that super-compact motherboard to the laptop lid – could be a difficult act to pull off, at least in the shorter term.

Nonetheless, it’s good to see Dell (and Intel) at least thinking about strategies for future more eco-friendly laptops.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).