San Antonio

Two Aggies capitalize on wasted gas to mine digital gold

The vibrant flames roaring out of oilfield flare stacks could also be part of Texas surroundings to you, however two Aggies see alternative to get within the digital gold rush.

SAN ANTONIO — Out within the huge rural space of east Texas lies the personal location of Matt Lohstroh and Brent Whitehead’s work shed. You’ll hear the hissing of spray paint or, at instances, the crackling of welding inside. A scan of the cabinets is usually a complicated sight. Hundreds of small followers, empty steel containers, wires and computer boards are stacked on high of one another. 

All these supplies are integral points of their company, Giga Energy Solutions.

“We’re from (Texas) A&M, the place everybody says ‘Gig ‘em.’ Giga actually stands for a metric of electricity, so the giga watt, which is 1,000 megawatts,” Whitehead said. “We get a lot of people who say ‘Giga like A&M, I like that,’ and so, it’s sort of two birds, one stone.”

They say their concept for the company progressed throughout their junior year at Texas A&M University. They determined to take a semester off to pursue their plan in 2019, when the 2 Aggies publicly launched the primary company within the state to repurpose wasted oilfield gas so as to create the preferred digital asset on the earth.

“We timed it perfectly with COVID, coincidentally, and really from January 2020 to August 2020, that’s when we had our biggest amount of growth,” Lohstroh mentioned. “We were building and engineering everything.”

The cofounders’ system operates in 4 steps. First, they take pure gas flaring, a course of that’s supposed to burn off environmentally dangerous byproducts from oil and gas manufacturing, and redirect that flare to an engine. The engine combusts the pure gas after which generates that pure gas into electrical energy. 

The immense quantity of electrical energy that’s produced powers their computer systems to mine bitcoin.

“We ran into a lot of people, they said, well, you know, ‘Why are you even making this? You’re making something that’s fake. You can’t touch bitcoin,’ stuff like that. But our thing was it does have value,” Whitehead mentioned. 

We know and believe that it’s here to stay and forever change our financial system and how the world operates,” Lohstroh added. “First step of the process, I would say, is start researching bitcoin and realize why it’s a $1.2 trillion asset class, and ever-growing.”

Bitcoin is a tough asset to perceive as a result of its idea is multi-layered, from the way it operates to the way it alters the view of conventional money. A easy clarification is to consider bitcoin like gold, which is efficacious and scarce. 

But not like the dear steel, bitcoin is a retailer of worth that exists on-line. So far, there are 18.7 million bitcoins which were launched into circulation. Only 21 million bitcoins can ever be created. New bitcoins are made by way of refined computer systems that remedy complicated math issues. 

Lohstroh and Whitehead are working computer systems which can be referred to as miners to “mine” new bitcoin.

The cofounders pack the computer systems inside delivery containers and position them close to flare stacks to run the entire system. They obtained concepts from Stephen Barbour of Upstream Data, who operates the same operation in Canada. But not like the Great White North, the State of Texas has a scorching and humid surroundings, and their computer systems which mine bitcoin produce immense warmth. They had to undergo months of trial and error to develop an environment friendly set-up. 

In reality, the 2 bootstrapped their startup out of a yard.

“We didn’t have anywhere to build it, we actually set a container in my parent’s backyard. We had cranes coming out, we had metal everywhere. It was just a total mess. I definitely owe them a lot for even allowing us to do it all,” recalled Whitehead.

Giga Energy Solutions has obtained worldwide curiosity from folks in Saudi Arabia and Russia. They say a number of publicly traded firms within the U.S. have additionally expressed curiosity of their business. 

But the thrill isn’t shared by everybody. After Lohstroh tweeted a video of their system in an oilfield and the publish went viral, critics lashed out. They assumed the company was drilling for oil or argued that they have been enabling oil firms to pollute the surroundings. 

But the cofounders say their system is the answer.

“We’re saying, ‘Hey we can take this gas, we can make electricity out of it, while also making sure that we get the best combustion rate possible.’ We can get 99% combustion rate with our catalytic converters and our emission regulators that we have on our generators,” defined Whitehead.

“We’d love to be sucking up all of the pure gas in Texas that’s being flared off. I consider there was a report that mentioned there’s sufficient pure gas to be flared within the State of Texas to energy the State of Texas,” Lohstroh said. “We believe that natural gas and oil production is going to stick around for the next 100 years and natural gas flaring is merely a byproduct of a lack of infrastructure. We view (it as) this system is here to stay for a pretty long time.”

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