Campus News in Brief

Researchers create energy-efficient game consoles

While video game consoles like the Xbox 360 have long been known to consume excessive amounts of electricity, Carnegie Mellon researchers are proposing strategies for more energy-efficient entertainment.

Engineering and public policy doctoral students Eric Hittinger and Kimberley Mullins and engineering and public policy professor Inês Lima de Azevedo’s recent article “Electricity consumption and energy savings potential of video game consoles in the United States,” published in Energy Efficiency, offers a simple and virtually free solution to the problem.

Much of the electricity cost associated with the use of these video game systems originates in users’ choice not to shut down the devices after they finish using them. As a result, consoles consume approximately 1 percent of the residential electricity used in the United States — although fewer than half of the households in the population have the devices.

The solution proposed by researchers is to simply create a firmware update that most users get automatically from the manufacturers. The update could create a default setting to put the consoles to sleep after one hour, possibly reducing electricity consumption of game consoles by 75 percent. This solution is estimated to save consumers $1 billion annually in electricity bills.

Professor develops cheaper way to synthesize peptides

Carnegie Mellon chemistry professor Danith Ly has invented an easier, less expensive technique for manufacturing cyclic peptides.

Cyclic peptides are ring-shaped chains of amino acids. Some cyclic peptides can be used to combat serious diseases, including HIV and SARS.
Carnegie Mellon chemists have specifically focused on synthesizing a cyclic peptide known as RTD-1.

“RTD-1 is part of the innate immune system of macaques and baboons, and at one time it was part of our immune system,” Ly said in a university press release. “If we can reproduce this peptide, we possibly could treat a wide range of infections to which humans were once immune.”

The synthetic peptide has now proven effective against E. coli, listeria, staphylococcus and salmonella — all of which are fought by RTD-1.
The researchers now hope to test the synthetic peptide against other pathogens, specifically ones resistant to antibiotics. Chemists also plan to reproduce and synthesize other cyclic peptides using Ly’s method.

The research for this project was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the DSF Charitable Foundation.