Immersion-cooled miners can run faster without overheating. Picture: BLOOMBERG.
Immersion-cooled miners can run faster without overheating. Picture: BLOOMBERG.

The endless competition among bitcoin miners to assemble the fastest computers has led to a surprising new tactic: installing computers inside tanks of liquid coolant.

The immersed equipment runs faster without overheating. In a business where every nanosecond of advantage counts, every major miner is piloting the technology right now, according to Nishant Sharma, founder of mining consultant BlocksBridge.

“It looks like a fish tank with machines inside it,” Sharma said in an interview on Tuesday. “Sooner or later, all big miners will be doing large-scale immersion mining.”

The trend illustrates the lengths crypto-mining companies will go to gain advantage over their competitors. Their fortunes rise and fall on being the first to solve complex calculations that underpin the bitcoin system, spurring a virtual arms race for the fastest machines.

In October, Riot Blockchain, a Nasdaq-listed mining company, said it was developing the first large-scale immersion-cooled bitcoin mine at its facility in Texas. The company said it would place 46,000 mining machines requiring 200MW of electricity into cooling liquid. Royal Dutch Shell also introduced a new immersion cooling fluid in August that can be used in crypto mining.

Bitcoin mining operations are made up of thousands of computers stacked on shelves in warehouses surrounded by huge fans. Electricity can account for about 80% of a miner’s operating cost, according to Tyler Page, the CEO of Cipher Mining Technologies.

The crypto industry has been criticised for the amount of electricity its mining operations suck up. While immersion won’t make the rigs use less power, they will probably be more profitable if they can run faster.

The push towards immersion-cooled mining has driven an increase in demand for the synthetic coolant that bathes mining rigs. 

“We’re at the limit of our ability to cool electronics with air,” David Sundin, the co-founder and chief scientist at Texas company Engineered Fluids, said in an interview on Tuesday. “Our business has increased 500% in the last six or seven months. It’s just gone through the roof.”  

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

Bloomberg 

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