Machine Design

Sustainable Engineering 8/6/2009


LEDtronics Inc.,

Mouser Electronics Inc.,

Joule-Thief energy-harvesting modules,

TIA white papers,

Here’s help with sustainable packaging
Manufacturers that must figure out the environmental impact of various packaging options now can get help online. A calculator for paper-based packaging is available at Developed by the Environmental Defense Fund, it is designed to quantify the benefits of paper choices and show the environmental impacts of different papers across their full life cycle. Typical uses are to compare the impacts of a specific paper to alternatives with higher recycled content, or to compare the combined impacts of several different papers versus recycled alternatives.

CO2-equivalent savings figured from the calculator may be plugged into another online tool from the EPA that translates such figures into other useful metrics. At html, one can enter greenhouse-gas reductions data and generate a readout in terms of common sources such as the amount generated by an equivalent number of passenger cars or homes.

Another calculator from the U.K. government site, gives businesses an indication of the environmental impact of their packaging designs. A podcast explaining how to use the tool is at

New source for energy-harvesting modules
Joule-Thief energy-harvesting modules and demonstration kits will scavenge and convert ambient mechanical energy, such as vibration and impact events, into a standard dc-voltage output. Energy harvesters developed by AdaptivEnergy, Hampton, Va., are renewable, green power supplies that constantly recharge themselves from the environment. The supplies power a wide variety of low-power microcontrollers used extensively in wireless and active RFID applications. They are now distributed by Mouser Electronics Inc., Mansfield, Tex.

Catch an energy-efficiency podcast
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association’s (NEMA) new energy-efficiency podcast channel provides interviews on how the electroindustry is driving energy efficiency and energy independence. The first Energy Efficiency episode will air in August. Find it at

White papers sort out international green regulations
The Telecommunications Industry Association has written several white papers that deal with environmental regulations that makers of electronics, medical devices, toys, and related products need to know about. Individual publications each deal with regulations in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Each paper summarizes the main laws governing product import, distribution, packaging, labeling and recycling of end-of- life disposition with special attention paid to restricted substances such as lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, and cadmium.

The white papers are free online at

Edited by Leland Teschler

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