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Author Topic: Mineral oil cooling  (Read 9445 times)
flyswatta
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June 07, 2011, 01:54:59 PM
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 I live in the South and have my 'beater' pc in the garage, where it runs too hot to mine right now, so I'm hoping this will be able to keep it cool. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned mineral oil cooling on here - or at least not that I have found.  I've always been fascinated by the idea, but haven't ever tried it out.  I can use my beater PC with an old nvidia 8600gt. I figure if it doesn't work, then I'm not out much Smiley

Here are some examples:
http://www.pugetsystems.com/submerged.php
http://www.instructables.com/id/Mineral-Oil-Submerged-PC/

The crowd around here seems really experienced and I'd like your thoughts. 
I think the pro's would be:
1. relatively cheap for a cooling system (compared to water cooling)
2. quiet, like really quiet
3. less power used on cooling the system (like the mining rig pics with multiple fans pointing at each gpu)
4. fun weekend project Smiley

Con's:
1. run the risk of frying your board
2. ?

Personally, I'm thinking of going all out ghetto - using one of those plastic pans/buckets that you get from the hospital, and then hooking up an old transmission radiator and a fish pump to move the oil.  I'm hoping that the movement of the oil will be enough to keep the heat going to the surface where it will mostly dissipate and then the radiator will get the rest.  I hope to get away without even fan cooling the radiator! 

If it's still too hot, I guess I could drop the whole thing in the refrigerator Smiley

Anyway thoughts, suggestions, referrals to the insane asylum?

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Meatball
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June 07, 2011, 01:58:52 PM
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Funny you mention this, I actually thought about that the first time I walked into the room where my miners had been running and it was a heatbox. Smiley  I've not done it, but I don't see why it wouldn't work.

There was a great episode of Systm over on Revision 3 where they built a system immersed in mineral oil that might be worth a look.

My main thought though would be you'd destroy any resale value since I don't think you'd ever be able to get all the oil out of the parts to be able to resell them Smiley
Sukrim
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June 07, 2011, 02:32:27 PM
 #3

No, just no!

What is not mentioned in these reports is that mineral oil thends to (whatever the real english word is...) "crawl" through narrow channels due to the capillary effect.

This means ANY cable you attach to another cable/socket in an oil PC will start after a few days/weeks start to leak oil at the other end. There's areason why bluetooth mice and keyboards are recommended, normal mice will become oily within weeks because their data cable sucks up the oil. Prepare to have oil coming out of wall plugs, network cables and monitors!

On top of that, it isn't even cheap! Also you would need to take a lot of care for hot spots, as oil is not as good in conducting and storing heat as water. Add to that, that you might still need external radiators, as the surface of your aqarium/bucket might not be enough to dissipate that heat.

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flyswatta
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June 07, 2011, 02:45:42 PM
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No, just no!

What is not mentioned in these reports is that mineral oil thends to (whatever the real english word is...) "crawl" through narrow channels due to the capillary effect.

This means ANY cable you attach to another cable/socket in an oil PC will start after a few days/weeks start to leak oil at the other end. There's areason why bluetooth mice and keyboards are recommended, normal mice will become oily within weeks because their data cable sucks up the oil. Prepare to have oil coming out of wall plugs, network cables and monitors!


Interesting!  I DO remember some comments about this.  I suppose the system could run headless and I could use a wireless card, mouse and keyboard.  I guess the big question would be the power cable, since I can't do wireless power.  Maybe do one of those 'rain loops' in the cable so that excess oil would drip off the low point.  Although I'd have a hard time imagining that much wicked oil.

I guess the other question would be determining how much surface area I'd need to dissipate x amount of heat?  I'm thinking that it'll end up being one of those trail and error type things. 
rb1205
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June 07, 2011, 02:45:48 PM
 #5

Have a look at this...

http://www.grcooling.com/gallery/

flyswatta
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June 07, 2011, 02:57:54 PM
 #6

Have a look at this...

http://www.grcooling.com/gallery/
Nice!  I'd watched a video of an oil server rack for blades last year.  I was wondering if it ever caught on. 
happypal
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June 07, 2011, 03:06:41 PM
 #7

You still need to cool the oil.

The thing is the oil has a HUGE thermal capacity, and it'll take up to 8-12 hours to heat up, but it can and will eventually hit critical temperatures if not properly cooled. A poor choice (IMO) for 24/7 dedicated mining. There are silent/efficient ways to cool the oil, but don't think that just using mineral oil is a magical solution

Oil cooling can be a real sweet deal for home computers, though, as the computer will be turned off before the oil heats up.
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June 07, 2011, 04:56:02 PM
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I'd try to design some kind of 'safe failure mode' into the cooling loop, so if the pump gives out and the oil is heating up you won't fry everything. (Literally.)

Perhaps a spare tank mounted above and some kind of catchall basin that would contain the runoff? At least until you had time to get home/wake up/etc.. Could be mechanically triggered if the pump stopped somehow.

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June 07, 2011, 05:06:21 PM
 #9

Gonna be hard to resell video cards that are covered in mineral oil....

And yeah, just submerging a computer in oil won't do anything.  You need something to keep it cool.  Peltiers are/were popular for this task before.

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June 07, 2011, 05:17:55 PM
 #10

Gonna be hard to resell video cards that are covered in mineral oil....

And yeah, just submerging a computer in oil won't do anything.  You need something to keep it cool.  Peltiers are/were popular for this task before.



I swear every day I use these forums I wish for multiquote.

Basically what these folks have been saying though. One of the great advantages of mining over buying coins is you can re-sell your hardware if things go south so you have less sunk cost than a buyer. When you submerge hardware in oil you've basically destroyed it. You will basically never be able to get the oil out fully, and except for someone else who wants to use oil to cool, no one will buy that. And the mineral oil still requires cooling. There is no magical free cooling method, heat needs to go somewhere regardless of the cooling method. Don't forget that oil has some not so great properties to it too, like high viscosity for poor mixing. A machine running full blast 24/7 with many hot videocards will create incredibly hot spots that will not necessarily transfer to the entire reservoir without mixing.

So you need to 1) Mix oil 2) Remove heat from oil 3) never expect to get rid of your hardware once submerged.
Jack of Diamonds
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June 07, 2011, 05:18:41 PM
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Gonna be hard to resell video cards that are covered in mineral oil....

And yeah, just submerging a computer in oil won't do anything.  You need something to keep it cool.  Peltiers are/were popular for this task before.

If you resell a card then you are obviously going to dry the card or other components. As mineral oil will not damage the circuitry nobody can ever know how you cooled it. There are guides online on how to clean mineral oil from components.

Liquid submersion into mineral oil will cool the system adequately given the ambient temperature stays reasonably low.

There are hosting companies and large research labs (even government agencies) that use oil cooling because it costs much less than air conditioning.
http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/10/03/18/1955238/Startups-Submerged-Servers-Could-Cut-Cooling-Costs

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louis_net
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June 07, 2011, 05:37:33 PM
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mineral oil is insanely expensive, enough to pay for many months of electricity spent on cooling

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flyswatta
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June 07, 2011, 06:01:54 PM
 #13

You still need to cool the oil.

The thing is the oil has a HUGE thermal capacity, and it'll take up to 8-12 hours to heat up, but it can and will eventually hit critical temperatures if not properly cooled. A poor choice (IMO) for 24/7 dedicated mining. There are silent/efficient ways to cool the oil, but don't think that just using mineral oil is a magical solution

Oil cooling can be a real sweet deal for home computers, though, as the computer will be turned off before the oil heats up.
I'd like to be clear - I'm just a hobbyist - not really in it to be a business or anything. I'm more interested in the technology and the idea behind it all.   If I can get the card to pay for itself, I'm running it into the ground anyway since there's no actual cost except the opportunity cost of the resale value. 

My thought on cooling it was to run it through a radiator and to circulate the oil - which would also speak to the other point about mixing the oil.  Or just put a fan blowing across the top - prolly want to undervolt it to cut down on the noise Wink

Cost wise for the oil - it would probably cost more than the electricity to run the fans, true, but less than a water cooled system.  How much oil would you need? You can buy a quart at walmart or target for under $2.  Say you put it in 2 gallons, that's like $16 and if we need more, it's still pretty cheap.  The main problem I have is how much oil do I need in order to keep the temps stabilized?

The huge upside is that there is low or no noise for the system.
RyNinDaCleM
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June 07, 2011, 06:06:09 PM
 #14

Gonna be hard to resell video cards that are covered in mineral oil....

And yeah, just submerging a computer in oil won't do anything.  You need something to keep it cool.  Peltiers are/were popular for this task before.



I swear every day I use these forums I wish for multiquote.

Basically what these folks have been saying though. One of the great advantages of mining over buying coins is you can re-sell your hardware if things go south so you have less sunk cost than a buyer. When you submerge hardware in oil you've basically destroyed it. You will basically never be able to get the oil out fully, and except for someone else who wants to use oil to cool, no one will buy that. And the mineral oil still requires cooling. There is no magical free cooling method, heat needs to go somewhere regardless of the cooling method. Don't forget that oil has some not so great properties to it too, like high viscosity for poor mixing. A machine running full blast 24/7 with many hot videocards will create incredibly hot spots that will not necessarily transfer to the entire reservoir without mixing.

So you need to 1) Mix oil 2) Remove heat from oil 3) never expect to get rid of your hardware once submerged.
And, any warranty would most surely be voided!
Air temperature is still ALWAYS, the determining factor of ANY cooling system.

troubledove
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June 07, 2011, 06:20:38 PM
 #15

Then set the system on freezer that has cooling capacity over your rigs thermal output and you can overclock anything madly.

Or you could make a cascading compressor to cool the oil in the insulated box to archieve same result, but the simple freezer is basically the same stuff in not-so-fancy form.

I have seen this in action once and it worked like charm.
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