Illinois Tech Students Make Cryptocurrency More Efficient – Government Technology
As the popularity of digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin continues to grow, the carbon footprint of cryptocurrency “mining” has also increased — with Bitcoin mining operations alone reaching an annual energy consumption level of 55TWh in 2018.
To eliminate this barrier to the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies and to make them more environmentally sustainable, a group of computer science and engineering students from the Illinois Institute of Technology developed a cryptocurrency called GiGi, which aims to serve as a model for energy-efficient cryptocurrencies that can compete with the transaction speeds of other payment processing methods like credit cards.
According to a news release from the university, the student cohort — dubbed Team GiGi — unveiled their prototype at last month’s inaugural Grainger Computing Innovation Prize competition, which encouraged 25 student research teams to devise creative technology solutions to global challenges such as climate change and the development of smart infrastructure. The group took the first place prize of $15,000 for their concept.
“Digital currencies like Bitcoin are here to stay, but they currently have a disproportionate carbon footprint and slow transaction speeds,” team leader and computer science student Gabriel Bryk said in a public statement. “Our new digital currency GiGi, Green lightnInG coIn, increases transaction throughput through larger blocks with smaller block times and achieves energy efficiency on par with centralized solutions using an improved proof-of-space algorithm leveraging XSearch to secure the digital currency.”
According to Illinois Tech computer science professor Ioan Raicu, Team GiGi’s faculty mentor, the group’s hard-drive prototype is intended to make digital currency more accessible through its “proof-of-space” model, which they chose in favor of the “proof-of-stake” model currently being tested on the blockchain for Ethereum.
“One of the biggest problems with [many types of] cryptocurrency and blockchain is that they use an algorithm called ‘proof of work,’ which is very expensive in terms of power consumption. That is one of the biggest problems with cryptocurrency in terms of sustainability,” he said. “It can’t keep growing and become widely adopted if it continues to consume so much electricity in securing the network.
“With proof of stake, it basically means you’re going to put a bunch of money in coins down as collateral, which means the richer you are the more money you’ll make off the system,” he continued. “So, the approach the students took was this proof of space, a third approach that tries to remember the work they do to store it and look it up later.”
The runner-up team, Waste Allocation Load Compressor, earned the …….