Opinion Crypto Mining Waste Heat is a Growing Resource

Crypto Mining Waste Heat is a Growing Resource

October 15, 2022

The process of mining cryptocurrencies involves a range of activities that are both intended and unintended for the same entities. First of all, the process includes a lot of energy expenditure for the creation of crypto tokens like BTC. These are produced through the action of mining rigs, which stands for specialized computers, producing the so-called hash rate. In essence, hash rate is the combined processing potential of all computers in a single entity, like a mining pool, a company, or even the entire network of a particular token. The hash rate stands for the mathematical calculation that a particular network, working using the proof-of-work process, uses to generate new tokens and also validate all of the transactions that take place on its blockchain. 

The process is very complicated in its mathematical basis but also very challenging for the computers that are running it. Because of that, they tend to spend a lot of energy to produce those calculations and their difficulty goes up regularly, which is also a part of the predefined process being each digital currency network. However, a big side effect of those calculations is the heat that these mining rigs generate. The companies or any other entities that run the same mining rigs thus have to siphon out that heat and keep their computers from burning themselves up. So far, the heat that they produce was seen as a byproduct that only reiterates how wasteful these rigs are in terms of things like their carbon footprint. But, today, because of the energy crisis and more particularly, the problem of energy storage, the same heat could be put to good use with some adaptation and a major integration of digital currency mining facilities into the wider energy exchange.

Russian Gas

A key element of the ongoing problem where much of the world is finding itself inside of an energy crisis is the issue of natural gas. The same energy source has been hailed over the decades as a much more effective and less damaging form of carbon expenditure. Instead of oil-based products or coal, natural gas offers similar benefits and creates a much less carbon footprint. That is why many countries pivoted towards gas for their heating needs and heat-based power generation. Across the EU, for example, many countries are using natural gas to power their industries, heat their populations, and do so much more. 

However, the problem is that the Russian Federation is one of the main producers of natural gas, especially for the EU nations, including its heaviest hitters like Germany. With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and the Russian invasion of the country, the gas gradually stopped flowing toward the EU. Other nations outside of this region are slowly becoming aware that they are over-reliant on gas but now find themselves in a situation where they cannot change that fact quickly or easily. But, this is the exact element where the crypto mining rigs and their heat output could be useful, along with another big technological element that recently came to the forefront of energy storage.

Sand Battery

Several months ago, a Finish tech company came to the forefront of many news outlets, including the mainstream ones that do not deal in the energy sphere. The reason is that the same company, called Polar Light Energy, created what it called a sand battery. This term stands for a huge container tall up to 10 meters, filled with sand and heating elements, as well as heat ducts that can funnel the same energy in and out. The sand battery works as the renewable energy generators – like wind or solar – create electricity that then heats up the sand in the container. 

Thanks to the sand’s physical characteristics, it can be heated up to 500 degrees Celsius. The container then keeps the same heat for days and weeks, allowing anyone to use it through its ducts to warm up water that fills the radiators of a long-distance heating system. Already, the same commercial facility is working in Finland, where it is helping heat the community’s swimming pool and other facilities. In short, the same device allows for heat to be stored for a prolonged period of time. 

Mining Rig Heat Output

Crypto mining rigs, as all esports players, digital currency enthusiasts, and other interested parties already know, generate a lot of excess heat. Previously, that was just an unfortunate element that the mining companies had to deal with. Now, however, combined with the sand battery, the same heat can become an invaluable resource. With a sand battery at a mining facility, the same organization could store the heat that it produces and combine it with solar power, for example, to generate the needed temperatures. 

The output of the rigs would help heat the sand up and thus could be reused by the same facility for its heating needs or sell it to a utility company. In any case, the same heat can be both preserved and used effectively, instead of simply being seen as a necessary evil that the mining companies have to deal with. With less reliance on natural gas, any such measure would be very useful, especially for nations in the European Union.

Personal Heating

Another aspect of the mining rig’s excess heat comes from the ability of individual households to attain mining rigs for their home-based use. That would include smaller rigs that produce a byproduct of heat which the same home uses to heat up smaller parts. For example, it is easy to see a person using a mining rig to heat up a home office while the rest of the family is out. Instead of heating the entire space, a rig could heat only the part that the same person is using at that moment. This might seem minor, but when this is again added to the notion of using home-based solar power, a very powerful setup emerges. At the same time, it is also able to generate digital currency and add another level of value there as well.