A Netherlands-based company has pioneered a way to harvest energy from body heat to power cryptocurrency-mining computers – but is it really worth it?
Is it truly possible to harness energy from the human body to power cryptocurrency mining rigs?
A Netherlands-based technology company, Speculative.Capital has pioneered a project that explores the possibility of harnessing energy from idle human subjects.
To do so, the company created body suits that turn body heat into electricity from human subjects to power computers that are mining cryptocurrency.
According to their website, 37 people were involved in the project. The concept is pretty simple, a subject lies down for a few hours while the body suit harnesses energy from their body heat.
The technology is pretty nifty, as small thermoelectric generators harvest the temperature differential between the subject’s body temperature and the surrounding ambient temperature of the room. The electricity generated is then used to power mining rigs, that mined recently created cryptocurrencies that promised to create good future growth in value.
In total, the subjects provided enough power for the computers to mine for 212 hours, that’s just over eight days, and they claim to have unlocked 16,594 coins during that time.
The chosen cryptocurrencies were Vertcoin, StartCOIN, Dash, Lisk, Litecoin and Ethereum. Vertcoin and StartCOIN accounted for the majority of coins unlocked, while comparative crypto heavyweights Litecoin and Ethereum were the least mined coins – given the now-scaled difficulty to mine them.
During that 212 hour period, the 37 subjects produced 127,210 milliwatts of power.
Let’s make some assumptions here
If you have a Nvidia 1060 six GB graphics card in your computer, you can expect to get a hashrate of 19 MH/s at 80 watts when mining Ethereum – going with data from 1stminingrig.com.
Going with CryptoCompare’s current calculations – you would only be able to mine 0.002487 of Ethereum a day and that is using all 127,210 milliwatts, which equals 127 watts, of the power harnessed by the bodysuits.
While the idea is admirable, quirky and exciting, it seems like far too much effort for too little reward.
However, projects such as these push the boundaries of technology and expand the limits of what the human body is capable of, and how we view and explore the way we harness and produce energy in the future.
Whenever projects like these are undertaken and results are published, people are quick to debunk and belittle the work that has been done. While the project may not have produced nearly enough energy to mine extraordinary amounts of cryptocurrency, it is an alternative and green way of looking to power the miners needed to maintain the Blockchain.
Why not use the sun?
Speculative.Capital does make one wonder what other alternatives there are to power up mining rigs – especially for hobby miners at home.
The easiest, and probably most accessible option is solar power – if you live somewhere sunny.
Solar panels are easy to obtain and setup, although you will need an inverter and batteries to store their power. But given a steady a supply of sunlight, and you could easily produce enough energy to power a home-built mining rig.
Going by these calculations on solarpowerrocks.com, an average solar panel will produce 250 watts in an hour. If you get four hours of full sun, your panel will generate 1,000 watts of energy – eight times as much produced by our friends in the Netherlands.
At the end of the day, the efficiency of their chosen method matters not. What is imperative is that we look for cheaper and cleaner energy sources to power the power-hungry mining industry that continually verifies the Blockchain of cryptocurrencies.
As it stands, the cumulative power consumption of mining operations worldwide use more power than a number of individual African countries,
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies promise decentralized and anonymous transactional services to the common man – but we need to be conscious of the effect it has on power grids worldwide. If we can find better solutions – we should be using them.
The likes of Speculative.Capital and other technology companies are blazing a new trail for the cryptocurrency space, and it will be a massive triumph if more miners look to alternative power sources in the future.
At the time of publishing, Cointelegraph had not received a reply for an interview from Speculative.Capital.
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Author: Gareth Jenkinson