Gadgets take the green routeElectronics firms going environmental

05 January 2008

Consumer electronics firms are getting ready to unveil the latest gadgets in their bid to go green.

At the world's largest trade show for consumer electronics which starts on Monday in Las Vegas, manufacturers will be talking about smart power adapters that do not waste electricity, batteries that are easier to recycle, and components made from plants.

One of the 2,700 exhibitors at the International Consumer Electronics Show will be Japan's Fujitsu, which will show off a laptop with a plastic case made from corn rather than petroleum products.

The catch with the corn-based laptop is that the material is not biodegradable, meaning it does not decompose any faster than ordinary plastic.

Battery power

Another company attacking the recycling angle is Z-Power, which has developed a battery technology that it hopes will replace the lithium-ion batteries that power today's laptops and mobile phones.

Lithium-ion batteries are recyclable but contain little recoverable material. The metals in Z-Power's batteries will be recoverable.

The capacity should be 20-30% higher than lithium-ion laptop batteries. The company is also in discussions with cell-phone manufacturers.

Television sets are another big power draw, and will become more so as analogue TVs are replaced with high-definition sets. 

Though more energy efficient per inch of screen size, their larger size offsets any gain in efficiency. Plasma sets in particular easily draw 400 watts, or as much as four older tube-type TVs.

A much more power-efficient screen technology will be on display at the show with Samsung's 31-inch TV made of organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs. 

But the technology is much too expensive for the mass market.Sony has announced an 11-inch OLED display for $1,700 (£850).

Phone chargers

In mobile phones, Nokia says two-thirds of the energy a charger uses is drawn when the connected phone is already fully charged. 

GreenPlug of California will display a universal power adapter that "talks" to gadgets to determine their energy need. Apart from cutting wasted electricity the company aims to eliminate the need for a different adapter for every phone, MP3 player, and other portable gadget.

© The Press Association, All Rights Reserved

* See our preview of the Las Vegas CES, from where we will be reporting live on all the latest developments.