Mining cryptocurrency has become a profitable venture for companies in Canada over the past few years. Experts estimate Canada has a hash rate share of between 7.8% and 13%.

Cryptocurrency mines are popping up across Canada. Provinces with favourable tax rates, access to affordable electricity and the right temperature are seeing a rise in mining activity.

Bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins enter circulation. Computers using specialized mining software solve exceedingly complex computational arithmetic problems to mine cryptocurrency.

hive bitcoin mine in New Brunswick
Hive Blockchain Technologies’ bitcoin-mining operation in Saint-André, New Brunswick. Photo originally from CBC News.

You could mine bitcoin with your regular computer, but it would be time-consuming. Miners need a high degree of CPU power backed up by lithium-ion batteries. However, the growth of the bitcoin network necessitates better computational processes and complexity, which requires more computing power. Miners must use dedicated hardware and hundreds of computers powered by rechargeable batteries to scale their bitcoin mining efforts.

There is a higher risk of fire due to the considerable CPU power needed. A fire at a crypto mine in Thailand resulted in nearly $80,000 worth of damage. Miners in Canada need to take precautions to protect staff, the greater community, the local environment and the company’s assets. This article, however, will provide a complete set of guidelines to prevent this from happening.

Any company planning to mine a cryptocurrency needs to consider fire risks and create a fire mitigation plan. We list our top recommendations in this article. Contact us to learn more about the technology or book a demo. We are ready to help cryptocurrency mines across Canada.

Protect mining infrastructure

It’s crucial to have the proper mitigation tools to protect mining infrastructure and CPU banks.

While water sprinklers work for conventional fire protection, water can damage expensive electrical equipment, which could hurt your operation as severely as a fire would.

novec clean agent system Bitcoin miners should turn to clean agent fire suppression systems for data centres, like the Novec™ 1230.

Clean agent fire suppression systems discharge as gas to leave no residue behind and won’t affect high-value electronics.

The system connects to air sampling and highly sensitive smoke and heat sensors, so the clean agent discharges when a fire is detected.

Typical areas protected by engineered fire suppression systems include:

  • Backup battery rooms
  • Computer rooms
  • Data cabinets
  • Electric rooms under 400 volts
  • Sub-floors

Levitt-Safety carries engineered fire suppression systems from leading manufacturers, including Kidde and Ansul.

We also offer regular maintenance and can create CAD drawings outlining the design of your system.

Fire suppression system maintenance:

  • commissioning
  • inspection
  • maintenance, and
  • recharge.

CAD drawings:

  • system designs, and
  • emergency evacuation plans.

Monitor battery health

Lithium-ion is the most powerful class of batteries in the world. It’s a vital tool in cryptocurrency mining because it ensures the power supply is backed up and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Lithium-ion batteries pose a significant risk of fire when they malfunction and ignite. Lithium-ion batteries can fail for many reasons, including:

  • overcharging
  • overheating
  • excessive discharging, and
  • battery management system failure.

Off-gas detection is the practice of identifying electrolyte vapours as soon as a li-ion cell starts failing. It’s key to preventing thermal runaway and avoiding destructive fires.

Li-ion Tamer Lithium-Ion Battery DetectorEarly identification of battery failure will greatly decrease the significant risks of cryptocurrency mining. Consider equipping your data centre with a battery monitoring system like Ansul’s Li-ion Tamer®.

Li-ion Tamer has shown that, in many cases, mitigating action at the indication of off-gassing can prevent battery failure. Mitigating actions taken at smoke detection are ineffective, but having situational awareness of when off-gassing occurs adds a lot of value.

The system can also close contacts and stop energy flow that would otherwise spread cell decomposition between batteries. Li-ion Tamer has a built-in suppression component that uses inert gas to stabilize the battery and prevent flammable build-up.

Learn more about Li-ion Tamer

Adopt early warning smoke detection

vesda fire chartAspirating smoke detectors (ASD) draw air samples continuously in the area needing protection. The detector evaluates the samples for the presence of smoke. The system filters out particles like dust to prevent the chance of a false alert.

Xtralis™ invented VESDA to provide the earliest possible warning of an impending fire hazard. VESDA detectors have multi-level warnings and a wide range of sensitivity that does not degrade or change over time, so even minute levels of smoke can be detected before a fire has time to escalate.

You can use VESDA in any of the following areas:

  • server hall
  • battery room
  • mechanical room
  • administrative areas
  • electrical distribution
  • cable vaults and tunnels
  • chiller plant
  • generator room, and
  • air intake.

Learn more about the Xralis™ VESDA

A data center showing where each Xtralis product can be used

Ventilation matters

Ventilation is an important process in cryptocurrency mining operations. Sufficient ventilation systems provide sufficient fresh air to crypto mines, ensuring a safe working environment and preventing overheating.

Temperature control is also a necessary component of any cryptocurrency mining rig. Using a large amount of computing equipment can quickly heat the room. Fire protection systems are specifically engineered to control the ventilation system if an event occurs. Room integrity testing is critical for ensuring the system and your assets are appropriately protected. This works to engage or disengage fans and ventilation louvres should an event occur.

Closing Thoughts

As cryptocurrency mining becomes more popular in Canada, more consideration needs to be placed on the high risk associated with bitcoin mining. Between expensive computing powers and equipment, rechargeable batteries and space, it pays to invest in fire mitigation tools.

Our team at Levitt-Safety can help design, install, service and maintain fire protection systems. Contact us today to talk about your particular bitcoin mine situation and receive fire mitigation recommendations.

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Derek McEwen

Market Segment Manager, Fire Systems and Mining Technology

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