EA And BP Collaborate To Include Climate Education In SimCity Societies

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Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) and BP have collaborated to include climate change education within SimCity Societies, the next iteration in the genre-defining city-building franchise that has sold more than 18 million games to date. The collaboration brings together world-class game building skills and industry expertise on energy, electricity production and greenhouse gas emissions to highlight the impact of electricity generation on the emissions of carbon dioxide that are linked to climate change. The low-carbon electricity choices and monitoring of SimCity’s carbon emissions provide an entertaining, fully-integrated and accurate look at some of the causes and some of the major solutions available to combat rising levels of carbon and to help address the threat of global warming.

The game does not force players to power their cities any specific way, but allows them to make choices, each of which come with advantages and disadvantages. Similar to real-life, the least expensive and most readily-available buildings in SimCity Societies are also the biggest producers of carbon dioxide, an invisible gas that contributes to global warming. Should players choose to build cities dependent on these types of sources for power to conserve their in-game money, their carbon ratings will rise and, at reaching critical levels, the game will issue alerts about the threat of the various natural disasters like droughts, heat waves and others that may strike their cities.

Alternatively, players can strive to create a greener environment and avoid hazards caused by excessive carbon emissions by choosing from a variety of BP Alternative Energy low-carbon power options. Using hydrogen and natural gas plants to wind farms and solar power, SimCity Societies encourages people to learn about some of the causes and consequences of global warming in an engaging, educational and meaningful way. While these power sources maintain nearby property values and keep the cities’ citizens safer from disaster, they also mimic real-life in that they cost players more of their funds, and do not produce as much power as less green options that take up similar space. Informative real-world snippets about power production and conservation will also be available in-game, informing players of global warming issues both virtually and in reality.

Genetically modified algae could be efficient producers of hydrogen and biofuels

Renewable Energy 1 Comment »


(via Technology Review)

Algae are a promising source of biofuels: besides being easy to grow and handle, some varieties are rich in oil similar to that produced by soybeans. Algae also produce another fuel: hydrogen. They make a small amount of hydrogen naturally during photosynthesis, but Anastasios Melis, a plant- and microbial-biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that genetically engineered versions of the tiny green organisms have a good shot at being a viable source for hydrogen.

Melis has created mutant algae that make better use of sunlight than their natural cousins do. This could increase the hydrogen that the algae produce by a factor of three. It would also boost the algae’s production of oil for biofuels.

The new finding will be important in maximizing the production of hydrogen in large-scale, commercial bioreactors. In a laboratory, Melis says, “[we make] low-density cultures and have thin bottles so that light penetrates from all sides.” Because of this, the cells use all the light falling on them. But in a commercial bioreactor, where dense algae cultures would be spread out in open ponds under the sun, the top layers of algae absorb all the sunlight but can only use a fraction of it.

Melis and his colleagues are designing algae that have less chlorophyll so that they absorb less sunlight. That means more light penetrates into the deeper algae layers, and eventually, more cells use the sunlight to make hydrogen.

The researchers manipulate the genes that control the amount of chlorophyll in the algae’s chloroplasts, the cellular organs that are the centers for photosynthesis. Each chloroplast naturally has 600 chlorophyll molecules. So far, the researchers have reduced this number by half. They plan to reduce the size further, to 130 chlorophyll molecules. At that point, dense cultures of algae in big bioreactors would make three times as much hydrogen as they make now, Melis says.

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