The most non-standard mining options: from brain activity to Tesla and nuclear power plants

Against the background of the growth of the cryptocurrency market, interest in the mining of cryptocurrencies, in particular bitcoin, continues to grow. So, on March 14, Bitcoin again approached its historical maximum value, having risen above $ 61,000, and in February, BTC miners were able to earn a record $ 354.4 million in one week.

This has led to a sharp increase in demand for equipment for bitcoin mining, among which video cards and ASIC miners occupy a leading position.

However, in order to mine the first cryptocurrency , it is not at all necessary to buy specialized equipment. You can mine on things that are completely unsuitable for this.

Deficiency of mining equipment

According to the Avito ad service, in February the demand for video cards in Russia grew 2.6 times on average. At the same time, ready-made mining farms began to be bought 3.8 times more often than in 2020.

However, despite the growing interest in cryptocurrency mining, the number of advertisements for the sale of relevant equipment increased by only 18%. This has already created a supply shortage in the market, which is reflected in the cost of mining devices.

So, for example, over the past year, the most popular video card for mining Geforce GTX 1060 has risen in price by 70%, the GTX 1070 card has almost doubled, and the Radeon RX 580 – 2.4 times. To reduce the cost of devices that are primarily intended for gaming, the largest companies NVIDIA and AMD are preparing two types of new video cards suitable only for miners or only for gamers.

But so far, these specialized video cards for mining have not yet entered the crypto market. In light of this, we decided to figure out what other methods of mining cryptocurrencies have been developed by crypto enthusiasts, and have compiled a list of the most non-trivial solutions.

Pen and paper

One of the most unpretentious, but laborious and ineffective processes is paper mining. In 2015, programmer Ken Schriff tested how quickly you can mine cryptocurrency manually. This is made possible by the simple SHA-256 algorithm used by the Bitcion network.

The first round of hashing (solving a mathematical puzzle for speed) then took Schriff 16 minutes 45 seconds. This means that the programmer’s speed was 0.67 hashes per day. The generation of bitcoin miners that existed 6 years ago were already running a quintillion (one followed by 18 zeros) times faster.

This method is useless in order to earn or mine cryptocurrency. However, it helps to understand in detail how mining technically takes place, as well as how the blockchain works.

Brain activity

In April last year, Microsoft filed a patent application for a technology that will allow body functions to be used to mine cryptocurrency.

The company proposes to attach a special sensor to the miner that records the work of its brain and other organs. In this case, the customer will be able to set various tasks for the miner, for example, viewing ads, visiting sites, and so on. When these tasks are completed, cryptocurrency mining will take place.

Microsoft assumes that all the actions necessary for mining will occur unknowingly. This will allow you to go about your business and at the same time earn coins.

However, there is still no exact information on how exactly this method will work. Therefore, it is rather a futuristic view of the future of cryptomining.

Android smartphone

Many users are sure that it is possible to mine cryptocurrency on a regular smartphone that supports the Android OS. There are even several applications on Google Play that promise to earn money from mining. At the same time, among them there are fraudulent programs that only depict activities for the extraction of digital money. Instead, they place advertisements on the device display or even try to get the crypto wallet data. However, there are several solutions that actually allow some altcoins to be mined.

For example, the Mobile Integrated Blockchain (MIB) application allows mining the MIB cryptocurrency of the same name. The system works on a special protocol Mobile Proof-of-Work (MPoW), which takes into account the limitations of smartphones and allows users to choose the difficulty for mining. 

At the same time, the program seriously loads the smartphone – it heats up noticeably. The MIB cannot run in the background. Therefore, for this method of mining, it is necessary to buy separate devices, perhaps even make farms out of them. Moreover, it is necessary to take into account not only the cost of purchasing smartphones, but also the cost of electricity, since they will be continuously recharged.

Another application that allows you to mine cryptocurrency on your smartphone is called uPlexa. It can work not only on mobile devices, but also on tablets, PCs, TVs, set-top boxes. The program allows you to adjust the processor load to prevent overheating.

One of the most popular applications for mining cryptocurrency on a smartphone is Electroneum. It uses the concept of cloud mining. This means that users can mine cryptocurrency without using the computing power of their devices. Another similar project is Phoneum. 

But, even despite the various solutions for mining on a smartphone, they cannot be called effective or profitable. To start receiving any income, you probably need to assemble a mining farm from several devices, monitor their uninterrupted operation, and think over a cooling system. However, this entails serious costs that may not pay off.

Therefore, when choosing this method, it is necessary to carefully analyze all the risks and compare them with the possible profitability.

Tesla electric car and BMW sports car

Some electric car owners are converting their cars into mining farms.

For example, in December 2017, the owner of a Tesla Model S installed special equipment in the trunk, which allowed him to connect 16 video cards. This method was not chosen by chance. The miner purchased the car before January 15, 2015, so he had access to the free charging program on the Supercharger network of stations. This allowed him to solve the problem with expensive electricity, which is one of the main expenses of miners.

In January of this year, the owner of the hybrid sports car BMW i8, crypto enthusiast Simon Byrne, placed 6 GeForce RTX 3080 video cards in the trunk of his car for the production of ether. Byrne commented that he did it in spite of gamers and in order to earn cryptocurrency even while driving. However, in fact, the farm is very hot, so it is unlikely that you will be able to drive while it is turned on. At least, this is definitely uncomfortable, because in addition to generating heat, the equipment makes a lot of noise.

Nuclear power plants

In May 2020, the state-owned enterprise of Ukraine Energoatom began to study the possibility of mining cryptocurrencies at nuclear power plants to provide additional markets for electricity. Interestingly, a year earlier, digital money was already mined at a Ukrainian nuclear power plant, albeit illegally. Then, in the secure rooms of the South Ukrainian NPP, computer equipment was found necessary for mining – Radeon RX 470 video cards, hard drives, system units and power supplies, among other things.

It is noteworthy that such illegal mining of cryptocurrency is not uncommon. For example, from 2017 to 2020, Rosseti identified “black” mining farms, the total damage from which was estimated at more than 718 million rubles. Most of the debt has already been collected through the courts.

However, there are legal ways to mine cryptocurrency at nuclear power plants. For example, in Russia one of the mining centers is located on the basis of the Kalinin nuclear power plant. The equipment is supplied with electricity directly from the NPP.

Interesting but ineffective

The methods described above, which involve mining cryptocurrency using non-traditional devices, are less efficient than classic video cards and ASIC miners. Therefore, such mining options can rather be called entertainment than business.

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