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03/01/2018 - 3:51pm
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by Dr. Jeffrey Ortega, PhD, ZPower Director of Research
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The trend toward impenetrable design in small consumer electronics

As a society, we rely on our electronics more than ever before. Depending on their function, small electronic devices can improve communication, enhance quality of life, contribute to physical well-being, and generally provide entertainment, safety, and security. They also produce a lot of waste—waste that is destined for landfills and will never be recycled. The Consumer Electronics Association reports that the average American household uses around 28 personal electronic devices, the vast majority of which will only last about VogueZone009 Womens Open Toe Low Heel Printing Blend Materials Assorted Colors Sandals with Glass Diamond Blue 5 UK 2gp52E
before being discarded because they break or because their technology or design becomes outdated.

The United Nations University Asics Women’s GelMovimentum Gymnastics Shoes Pink Pink Mauve Wood Tb0nd
estimated that, that year, around 41.8 million tons of e-waste was produced globally. Of that total number, the United States contributed 11.7 tons, and only an estimated 15 percent of that 11.7 tons was recycled. Meanwhile, small electronics—including cell phones, wearables, medical devices, hearables, and fitness trackers, just to name a few (all market categories slated for significant future growth)—are increasingly being designed to be impenetrable, and thus unrecyclable.

The government is stepping in to change the way products are designed

This trend toward impenetrable design is unsustainable from the standpoint of both its impact on the environment and its impact on the consumer. Devices designed in this manner are unable to be repaired by anyone outside of the manufacturer—if they can be repaired at all. Their batteries are sealed in and cannot be replaced; and when the battery dies, the entire device dies with it (whether or not it might still function with a new power source). Then, upon device disposal —even when they are disposed of through approved recycling channels —these devices often cannot be disassembled easily enough to be profitable for recycling companies, and end up in the landfill anyway.

In fact, the problems that this design method generates has reached such a level of visibility that now the government is stepping in. fashionfolie Womens Pumps High Heel Diamante Evening Wedding Sandal Shoes 300326nbsp;Silver 3FUtPCn
have introduced legislation concerning users’ “right to repair” their electronic devices. The most extreme form of legislation has come from Washington State, where a bill is currently being considered that would completely ban the sale of electronic devices that do not have easily removable batteries.

Washington State House Bill 2279 states: “Original manufacturers of digital electronic products sold on or after January 1, 2019, in Washington State are prohibited from designing or manufacturing digital electronic products in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider. Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove.”

This bill still has a way to go before it can potentially become law, and it technically only applies to devices “containing a microprocessor and flat panel computer monitor.” Nevertheless, designers and manufacturers should view it as the canary in the coal mine and a signal that current design methodologies must change or be changed eventually by force of law.

Impenetrable design and the recyclability conundrum

In 2014, and every year before and after, the e-waste that didn’t find second life through disassembly and recycling (around 15%–20% currently ) was carted away to landfills or incinerators, where the resources used to make it are lost; Business Insider reports that we throw away approximately $60 million in gold and silver each year in unrecycled cell phones alone. Meanwhile, these discarded devices —which often also contain toxic chemicals, including lead, chromium, mercury, arsenic, and lithium—have the potential to release noxious gases, poison groundwater systems, and leach into soil.

But why do designers choose to build small electronics like this in the first place? There are a number of reasons —the protection of intellectual property being the most highly cited. But another reason, which does not get as much attention, is that the batteries powering these devices are dangerous when mishandled or swallowed.

Sealed-in batteries in small electronics—an unsustainable consumer protection method

In the case of small consumer electronics, the trend toward sealing batteries into devices is often part of an effort to protect consumers from the bad things that can happen to them when a battery is mishandled or swallowed. Poison.org reports that in 2017, 3,240 button cell batteries were ingested in the United States. Of that number, 1,984 of them were ingested by children under the age of six. And while the majority of these incidents were resolved without injury, the injuries that did occur ranged from mild to severe and included esophageal burns requiring surgery, feeding tubes, long hospital stays, and even death in the most tragic cases.

Meanwhile, mishandled batteries and malfunctioning batteries have been known to overheat or even explode, causing damage to both persons and property. We are all familiar with reports of batteries in everything from computers to phones to e-cigarettes malfunctioning in dangerous ways.

Designing for battery failure

Safety is always of paramount importance when a designer develops an electronic device for the general consumer market. Therefore, it is understandable that when designing with the knowledge that a potential battery failure could be catastrophic (and in the worst cases, fatal), sealing in the battery does not seem like such a bad idea. The more difficult it is to access the battery, the more protection from accidental swallowing or mishandling is provided. This makes sense from a consumer protection standpoint. Unfortunately, it is a method that is unsustainable.

Enter silver-zinc : a clean, non-toxic, non-flammable, rechargeable microbattery chemistry that could provide a solution to this ever-growing problem.

Silver-Zinc microbattery technology provides a workaround

It used to be that the only battery technology available that had the energy density and capacity to power small electronics for prolonged periods of time was chemistry that was highly volatile. That meant that when a battery failed, it failed in a spectacular way—a way that was harmful and potentially fatal. But silver-zinc is changing that.

When it comes to the theoretical specific energy density (Wh/kg) and energy density (Wh/l) of rechargeable microbattery chemistry, silver-zinc has the highest of all chemistries currently available, which means it can do an equal or better job at powering the streaming-based electronics that are becoming more and more ubiquitous.

Silver-zinc primary and secondary batteries are non-toxic. They contain a zinc (Zn) anode, a silver oxide (AgO) cathode, and an aqueous-based electrolyte. Since the contents of the battery are non-toxic and more stable, there is less of a chance of the cell expanding and leaking its contents if swallowed. Also, since the voltage of a silver-zinc battery is so much lower than that of a Li-ion battery (1.6V versus 3.7V, respectively) there is less of a driving force for the electrolysis of saliva that could lead to the burning of the esophageal lining. This means that, while swallowing a battery will always present a choking hazard, if a silver-zinc battery were to be swallowed, there is a reduced potential or likelihood for added injury through either hazardous chemicals leaching out or the electrolysis of saliva causing esophageal burns or worse.

And finally, silver-zinc batteries are non-flammable, which means that the only danger in mishandling the batteries comes from accidently losing them in the shag carpet. Because of this, designers can create products with batteries that can easily be replaced either by third-party repair persons or the consumers themselves, without worrying about the potential for a mishandled battery accident occurring. This frees designers up to create more sustainably designed products that have the potential for a longer usable life and a second life through recycling. Silver-zinc batteries are also 100 percent recyclable, which means that all of their parts can be reused over and over again.

As a primary battery chemistry, silver-zinc is an ideal choice for emerging technologies, including medical devices that are meant to be swallowed or used internally in other capacities. As a secondary battery chemistry, silver-zinc is perfect for long-use electronics that are designed to be worn on the body or in products designed for children and the elderly.

Billions of small electronics coming down the pike represent the potential for a bellwether moment in sustainable design

Research and Markets predicts that the wireless earbud market in particular and the hearables market in general are slated to experience a 120 percent compound annual growth rate for a value of $7.6 billion by 2020. That is just one corner of the small electronics industry, but it represents an overwhelming amount of potentially non-recyclable trash if we don’t make a change. Silver-zinc can be a part of that change.

One only needs to look to the international hearing aid market to see that change in action. Since 2016, nearly every major hearing aid manufacturer in the world has come out with a hearing aid product powered by silver-zinc rechargeable batteries. These rechargeable hearing aids provide proof of concept, while also providing a road map to new battery chemistry implementation. The convenience of re-chargeability and long-lasting charge are the primary motivators for this market’s adoption of silver-zinc, but the ancillary benefits that come with not needing to seal in the batteries (the devices are easy to maintain and they are easily disassembled at end of life) are probably, in the long run, the greatest benefit to society as a whole.

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Do I Have to Register for Selective Service?

The Selective Service Registration system enables the United States to keep a database of males who may be recruited into the armed forces in case of national exigency necessitating speedy enhancement of the US military power. By keeping a database of all such young men, the Selective Service System ascertains that any potential draft in the US armed forces is performed in a consistent and impartial manner.

Hence, the question remains as to whether you are required to register in the US Selective Service System. This seemingly strange question defies common sense to most foreign nationals since they may not anticipate ever becoming permanent residents; let alone to serve in the US armed forces should a draft get reinstated. As explained below, many foreign nationals are required to register in the US Selective Service system. Let us ponder the question posed at the outset of this paragraph: are you required to register? The answer to the aforementioned question depends on various variables as well as the particulars of your specific circumstances.

First and foremost, only men are required to resister in the Selective Service as women do not have this obligation. The registration requirement applies to males born after January 1, 1960. Any men born between March 29, 1957 and December 31, 1959 are exempt from the registration requirement since the system of registration was not installed by the time such men reached 18 years of age. Any males enlisted in the US armed forces are not required to sign up for Selective Service. In addition, any man who becomes 18 years of age while attending certain US military schools are also exempt from the registration requirement. If you are a foreign national male under the age of 26 and have not registered for selective Service, we advise you to sign up as soon as practicable.

US immigration laws dictate Selective Service registration as prerequisite to US Citizenship if the male initially entered the US before the age of 26. As a result, the rule remains that all foreign nationals present in the US between the ages of 18 and 25 must sign up for the Selective Service should they ever desire to become US Citizens some day. This rule applies to all men notwithstanding their immigration status; hence, even undocumented foreign nationals are required to comply with this requirement.

Unless noted above, non-immigrant males who are maintaining valid legal status such as H-1B, L-1, E-2, F-1 are not required to sign up for Selective Service. Once such nonimmigrant falls out of status more than 30 days, he will be required to register. Other foreign nationals who are required to sign up for Selective Service include undocumented aliens who had entered without inspection as well as Visa Waiver program entrants who overstayed more than 30 days.

Foreign national males between 18 and 25 years of age and who are applying for immigration through the adjustment of status or the consular processing method are automatically registered for Selective Service. If you are in doubt as to whether the Selective Service registration requirements apply to you, we advise you to err on the side of caution and register with Selective Service. By registering, you avoid any potentially undesirable consequences should you seek Citizenship in the future.

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