Nasdaq-listed bitcoin mining company Riot Blockchain (RIOT) is piloting new liquid cooling technology for mining hardware in Texas to test solutions for effective mining in difficult temperature environments.
Riot is launching an 8-megawatt immersion technology testing initiative to “assess the potential for higher productivity and lower cost mining opportunities in Texas,” per a press release. Testing is scheduled to start in Q1 2021.
If successful, CEO Jeff McGonegal told CoinDesk the company envisions “deploying immersion at a larger scale over time, particularly in warmer climates where cooling is a chief concern.”
In high heat and humidity environments, cooling mining machines with liquid immersion instead of air cooling offer significant advantages for miners with razor-thin profit margins.
Not only does liquid cooling offer significant noise reduction compared with fan cooling. Immersion cooling can also increase usable hashrate per machine by up to 50% in some cases, prolong the lifespan of some machines and allow miners to install more machines per square foot than if the same facility used fan cooling. But maintenance can be difficult.
The mining industry is still standardized around air-cooled designs, which means air-cooled facilities are still the first choice for miners,” said Ethan Vera, co-founder of Seattle-based mining company Luxor Technology, in a direct message with CoinDesk. “But in areas of high temperature and low humidity, miners use evaporative cooling as a cost-effective strategy to mitigate the heat.”
In hot, humid regions like Texas, Vera said, liquid immersion is “the cooling method of choice as it eliminates heat, dust and humidity issues.”
In planning this pilot project, the Castle Rock, Colo.-based mining firm is “looking to observe improvements operating in difficult mining temperature environments, combined with the additional performance that can be achieved as a result,” McGonegal told CoinDesk.
Participating in Riot’s pilot program are two bitcoin mining hardware and energy software companies, Enigma and Lancium, that are providing the technology Riot plans to test.
In 2020, Riot shares have outperformed bitcoin year to date in 2020, gaining 660% since January and trading near $9.37 at last check. Over the same period, bitcoin gained 170%. The mining firm is now worth over $666 million.