Mining Monday: The Mirage of Immersion Cooling

Welcome back to Mining Monday! This week, we deep dive into the intricacies of immersion cooling in the Bitcoin mining industry, particularly in the challenging environment of the Persian Gulf. While immersion cooling has gained traction globally, the desert climate of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) presents unique challenges that make this method less than ideal. Let’s explore the reasons, backed by data and insights, and understand why alternatives like hydro cooling and cooling curtains might be the way forward in these regions.

Immersion Cooling: A Mirage in the GCC?

The allure of immersion cooling is undeniable. By submerging ASIC miners in a thermally conductive liquid, typically dielectric oil, promises efficient heat dissipation. However, in the Gulf’s unique environment, this method reveals several pitfalls:

  1. Environmental Challenges: The GCC’s dry, hot, and dusty environment poses a threat to immersion cooling systems. Fine dust is a constant presence in the atmosphere, and no matter how hard one tries, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate it completely.
  2. System Failures: Immersion tanks that are not hermetically sealed and have even moderate exposure to air and dust can fail. The dust and extreme humidity in the GCC means contaminants can easily make dielectric fluid conductive, leading to short circuits.
  3. Maintenance Nightmares: Dust clings to miners as soon as they are removed from the immersion fluid, making cleaning and refurbishing a tedious task. Additionally, there’s the challenge of regularly emptying tanks and scrubbing them clean, which isn’t viable in the long run.
  4. Cost Implications: Immersion cooled infrastructure can cost up to $450k/MW, which is significantly higher than air cooling. For a 10 MW setup, this translates to a whopping $4.5 million in CapEx. Over time, these costs can accumulate, making immersion cooling a less economically viable option for mid to large-scale operations.

The Hydro Cooling Advantage

As the mining industry evolves, major manufacturers like Bitmain and Whatsminer are producing hydro miners alongside their air-cooled counterparts. Here’s why hydro cooling stands out:

  1. Performance: Water has a thermal conductivity that’s 4.5 times higher than most immersion fluids. This results in miners running 20% cooler, allowing for enhanced overclocking and higher profitability.
  2. Efficiency: Hydro cooling, especially with microconvective cooling technology, uses 50% less energy than immersion cooling systems. This translates to significant savings on electricity bills.
  3. Cost-Effective: Hydro cooling systems require very little maintenance throughout their lifetime and the fluid costs 97% less than immersion’s dielectric oil.
  4. Scalability: Hydro cooling is modular, allowing miners to expand operations as needed. In contrast, immersion cooling is cumbersome and expensive to scale.
  5. Sustainability: Hydro cooling has a smaller environmental footprint. It’s more efficient, uses a renewable resource (water), and avoids the environmental concerns associated with oil-based coolants.

Cooling Curtains: The Desert’s Oasis

In the sweltering heat of the Gulf, cooling curtains are proving to be invaluable. These systems, designed to reduce ambient temperatures, can effectively halve the surrounding heat. Here’s a deeper look:

  1. Dual-Curtain System: By employing a two-tiered curtain setup – one wet and one dry – miners can combat both temperature and humidity. This system ensures that the mining environment remains optimal, even in the harshest conditions.
  2. Automated Humidity Control: Integrated sensors can automatically halt pumps when humidity exceeds 90%, resuming operation when levels drop. This automation ensures that miners operate under consistently ideal conditions.
  3. Cost-Effective: Cooling curtains, compared to other cooling methods, are cost-effective. They require minimal maintenance, have a longer lifespan, and consume less energy.
  4. Dust Mitigation: While no system can entirely eliminate dust, cooling curtains, especially when combined with high-quality filtration systems, can significantly reduce dust intrusion, protecting equipment and enhancing longevity.

While immersion cooling might seem like a panacea, its practical challenges like a high CapEx, constant maintenance and dust mitigation in environments like the GCC’s make it less than ideal. Hydro cooling and cooling curtains are easier to maintain, more efficient, cost-effective, and a much more sustainable solution. As the Bitcoin mining landscape continues to evolve, miners must stay informed and choose the right cooling method for their respective environment to ensure long-term success.

For those dedicated to staying ahead in the space, AsicZ is your paramount resource. Our blog is a rich repository of daily articles offering deep insights into the evolving world of digital assets, blockchain technology, and mining. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or embarking on your mining journey, is your comprehensive hub, with an extensive selection of mining equipment updated on a daily basis and invaluable tools such as our hosting and profitability calculators. We also offer MaaS (Mining as a Service) with power rates lower than .03/kWh ensuring your mining operations are sustainable through pivotal movements within the industry.


Mining Monday: The Mirage of Immersion Cooling