Bitcoin mining generates three things: bitcoin, noise, and heat. A growing number of startups are harnessing the third byproduct – heat – to repurpose it for growing produce, making whiskey, heating homes, and other things. This livestream explores this side of the mining industry with two founders of leading mining heat capture companies.

This livestream is essential for anyone interested in creative ways miners earn extra revenue, novel use cases for byproducts of mining, and unique ways to make mining more sustainable and "environmentally friendly" besides bashing coal- and oil-powered mining farms.

Video Recording

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Audio Version

Show Notes

Introduction (timestamp)

  • Colin Sullivan (CEO, MintGreen): Seven years of experience in thermal exchange and related engineering work. Before MintGreen existed, the team was installing GPU mining rigs in a ski slope and discovered uses for mining heat.
  • Alex Vinot (Co-Founder, WiseMining): Founded the company in 2016 and designed systems to capture heat from mining and use it in residential environments. Alex also was mining individually since 2013. Only in 2020 the company started going full-speed on launching mining-heated water systems.

The state of heat reuse products for mining (timestamp)

  • Reuse of heat is in a nascent state. Most projects are DIY.
  • Standardized products launched at scales don’t exist yet. There’s lots of opportunity.
  • Designing these products has lots of engineering challenges.
  • Heat recovery done well can make miners very competitive.
  • Successful heat reuse means large scale and full utilization of heat load.

Specifics on MintGreen and WiseMining products (timestamp)

  • MintGreen: Large-scale heat conducting machines for heating rooms or fluid-to-fluid mediums. Also working on a bitcoin whisky release.
  • WiseMining: Developing a water tank with ASICs below it generating heat for the water for residential use.

How big is the market for captured mining heat? (timestamp)

  • 30% of electricity in Europe is for space heating (residential and commercial), so the market for heat is huge.
  • There is no problem on the demand side for captured heat; there is no limit. The problems are elsewhere (e.g., supply chains).
  • Canada’s electric baseboards consume twice the electricity as the entire Bitcoin network, so the demand for heat is huge.
  • The adoption curve of Bitcoin is the key barrier for demand for captured heat from mining.
  • Half the heat market could be served by something like captured heat in the future.

Mining heat capture engineering challenges (timestamp)

  • Lots of hashboards were destroyed in the process of making WiseMining’s products. Of course, they used S9s for this (haha).
  • The hashboards were designed to be air cooled, so capturing heat with water is a natural challenge. Power supply issues are also challenging.
  • Consistent uptime is important for mining profitability, but you don’t always need heat, so that’s a problem to solve.
  • Product suitability for heat capture is almost by chance since the machines aren’t designed for this use case.
  • Managing flow rates and the control system for MintGreen is highly complex.
  • In the future, maybe mining ASIC manufacturers would work with companies like MintGreen and WiseMining to make hashboards and ASIC machines better suited to capturing heat instead of repelling it.
  • MintGreen likes BraiinsOS.

Making mining greener by reusing heat (timestamp)

  • It’s an uphill battle at times to convince the environmental community that mining is green.
  • You have to first convince them that Bitcoin itself is useful.
  • You can make the energy “clean” and also capture heat to reuse for other green, clean use cases.

Retail products for heat capture from home mining (timestamp)

  • Building heat capture systems for mining isn’t super hard, but you need to be good at tinkering.
  • Heat capture and transfer can be difficult systems to build well though.
  • Most heat capture products will probably be designed for large-scale farms.
  • But there is a need and desire to build similar products for retail miners.

- WiseMining wants to create mining water heaters that anyone can run in their homes.

Goals for heat reuse by the next halving (timestamp)

  • WiseMining and MintGreen have pretty aggressive growth goals.
  • MintGreen is working with municipalities to heat over 100 buildings with captured mining heat.
  • By the next halving, MintGreen would like to be close to 100 MW in numerous jurisdictions.
  • WiseMining wants to deploy bitcoin mining heaters in homes to make mining affordable and efficient and offset other utility costs.

Hosted by Zack Voell and Will Foxley