How Soluboard Can Help Microsoft to Reach Their Carbon and Waste Targets by 2030

(Photograph: University of Washington)

With many blue-chip technology corporations now working towards the target of carbon neutrality by 2030, Jiva has experienced heightened interest in Soluboard as a commercially viable alternative to other market incumbent printed circuit board laminates from global brands such as Microsoft.

As highlighted by the Microsoft 2021 Environmental Sustainability Report, many of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals of the corporations in question are not challenging enough if the world is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. As such, Microsoft is now striving to achieve carbon negativity and net zero waste by 2030. Following this, the company has pledged that the equivalent amount of all carbon dioxide ever emitted since they were founded in 1975 will be removed from the atmosphere by 2050.

One key strategy to achieving these milestones is the advancement of their supply chains towards more environmentally responsible solutions with improved cradle-to-cradle credentials and compatibility with a validated end-of-life scenario. Microsoft continue to show a keen interest in Soluboard as the world’s first fully recyclable PCB laminate, with Jiva providing them with samples for testing by a research team at the University of Washington College of Engineering.

As published on the university website, the team were tasked with ‘Making Earth-Friendly Electronics’ using Soluboard as a PCB laminate. The team includes Vikram Iyer, an assistant professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering who is also a researcher in the UW Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems.

Iyer’s involvement in the project enabled the development and manufacture of a fully functional computer mouse, consisting of a biodegradable casing as well as a PCB manufactured using printed electronics with Soluboard as the PCB substrate. The rest of the team were responsible for investigating synthetic materials that can be recycled indefinitely unlike plastics as well as looking at seaweed and other algae to be used as substitutes for plastics typically used for 3D-printing.

The University of Washington reports that the project was a collaboration with Bichlien Nguyen, one of the principal researchers at Microsoft. With the ESG goals of the blue-chip corporation driving the project, the decision was made to adjust the electronics design process by utilising as few silicon-based chips as possible. It is reported that 80% of the carbon emissions produced during electronics manufacture are derived from silicon chip production in particular. (Source: UW News)

From the scope of the project, it is clear to see that Microsoft and its surrounding network shares Jiva’s vision of developing circular electronics supply chains whereby all components can be repurposed biologically. The University of Washington team were clearly inspired by Soluboard’s ability to disintegrate in hot water, developing casings to house the Soluboard PCB which are also water soluble and commercially compostable.

The findings obtained by the collaboration between the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and Microsoft Research have since been compiled into a paper titled ‘A Tale of Two Mice: Sustainable Electronic Design and Prototyping’ which was presented at CHI 22, an international conference in New Orleans focused on Human-Computer Interaction.

The water-based end-of-life solution was validated during the project, with the Soluboard PCB being reported as breaking down in under six minutes at boiling point to allow the recovery of electronic components. Jiva is also pleased to report that Soluboard contributed towards a 60% reduction in carbon impact compared to a traditional mouse according to the LCA, all while retaining thermal, computing and communication speed functionalities at equivalent levels to market incumbent PCBs. Together with Microsoft and our other partners, Jiva will continue to strive to reduce the environmental impacts of our personal electronics.