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Energy Intensity of Computer Manufacturing: Hybrid Assessment Combining Process and Economic Input-Output Methods

TitleEnergy Intensity of Computer Manufacturing: Hybrid Assessment Combining Process and Economic Input-Output Methods
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsWilliams E
Journal TitleEnvironmental Science & Technology
Volume38
Pages6166-6174
AbstractThe total energy and fossil fuels used in producing adesktop computer with 17-in. CRT monitor are estimatedat 6400 megajoules (MJ) and 260 kg, respectively. Thisindicates that computer manufacturing is energy intensive:the ratio of fossil fuel use to product weight is 11, anorder of magnitude larger than the factor of 1-2 for manyother manufactured goods. This high energy intensity ofmanufacturing, combined with rapid turnover in computers,results in an annual life cycle energy burden that issurprisingly high: about 2600 MJ per year, 1.3 times thatof a refrigerator. In contrast with many home appliances, lifecycle energy use of a computer is dominated by production(81%) as opposed to operation (19%). Extension ofusable lifespan (e.g. by reselling or upgrading) is thus apromising approach to mitigating energy impacts as well asother environmental burdens associated with manufacturingand disposal.
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