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Mineral Oil Submerged PC

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The following link is a tutorial on how to submerge a PC in an aquarium filled with mineral oil. The results were quite astounding considering the computer being used is a server for UT2004 and CS:S. It runs at 120 degrees F and is completely DEAD SILENT. This is a fun project, and is most likely best if you use slightly older or spare parts. If you enjoy the article/video, digg it!



The 1337 Fleet Mineral Oil PC
 
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Step 1: Gathering the Materials

Picture of Gathering the Materials
Alright, so after watching this video you must be thinking either one of two things. 1. Wow, that's really cool! -or- 2. I mean, damn, his typing is so freakin' slow! Explanation: My video capture slowed it down a bit, no idea why. Moving right along, since this is so amazing, let's first go over a few things with pretty pictures. Here are the required materials, (or the things that we just used).

Materials:

  • 5 gallon aquarium
  • 1 piece of justly fit plexi-glass
  • All standard PC components
  • Hacksaw
  • Hot glue gun
  • A lot of minutes on your cellphone (I'll explain why later)
  • 5 gallons of mineral oil (or 40 pints, which is more common to find)
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E1Mike10 days ago

im looking forward to build a Semi-modular Gaming PC, oil cooled, and this seems to be a great idea, but does the components last summerged!? like 3 - 5 years, i really take care of my components and my oldest computer is 9 year old, so i realy need to know. THIS IS BEST COOLING EVER @ if it last!

jamert20 days ago

for those looking into this for gaming rigs, this may answer some questions you have.

http://www.pugetsystems.com/submerged.php

I've been looking into this, buy the DIY is significantly cheaper.

Malkaris9 months ago
I've got a machine I've been running submerged for a while. A few observations
1. The oil never "wicked" up the wires, I suppose in some special case it might, but I never experienced it.
2. Depending on the watts you may not need external radiators to cool the oil. As a server under light load it would hold a temperature (a little warm but it was safe)
3. Don't try phosphorescent powder, it's too dense to stay suspended :(
4. Never had any problem, I use it for ASIC bitcoin mining and CPU litecoin mining
5. For the CPU mining I added a small (very small) aquarium pump with a pair of oil radiators striped from a Ford Explorer, they word well to quietly cool the system.

The best way to think of oil cooling is a universal heat-exchange adapter. The oil nicely takes heat from your device and transfers it to where you'd rather the heat go. So if you've got a 1000 watt PSU, if you use a large enough (1BTU/hr ~= 0.3Watt) radiator to "balance the equation"

dscn1635.jpg
Bugilt Malkaris2 months ago

Oil Submerged Crypto Mining

6 GPUs 5 in the video(one is down.)

Malkaris Bugilt1 month ago
Very nice setup. I was worried that GPU cards would have sensors on the fans. But it appears at least these do not.
I am still shopping for bargain ASICS to add to my bath.

as a fellow bitcoin miner your post is extremely informative!

glj12 (author)  wrinklemonster5 months ago
Glad to see that my project is somehow, still alive and a discussion. Nice post!

http://malkaris.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-merits-of...

I'm not sure if links are allowed but I've got more details about my project here.

thank you very much!

my only question is how come you didnt remove the fans? i'm assuming you kept them for the same reason they were there to improve flow, but wouldnt the mineral oil be very hard on them?

glj12 (author)  wrinklemonster5 months ago
Laziness I guess.Watching the fans slowly die was fun.

So the fans didnt work? i had figured since they should be magnadrive they would work alebiet slwoly but work to push the oil around for you nonetheless.

glj12 (author)  wrinklemonster5 months ago

Nah, that's not necessary. Stagnant mineral oil is fine.

I'm not argueing that it's necessary I'd just like to go into it with an understanding, was the fan that stopped magna drive, or did it die because it was still a motor based fan?

glj12 (author)  wrinklemonster5 months ago

It was just one of those cheap, system-esque fans with ball-bearings. No idea what type of fan it was. But, it eventually slowed to a hault after too much stress of constantly forcing viscus material around itself. Fans are not made to do that, therefore it died.

Ah ok that makes sense, Definitley a weird feeling watching hardware die in front of you and not minding. Have you noticed any issue with bleeding from the psu? I'm thinking the mineral oil should be non conductive enough to make that a nonissue, and i'm not referring to the toxicity discussion here as especially if you were to vacuum seal the system as i intend to moisture would be a non-issue, my curiosity would be the capacitors themselves bleeding electricity however i would imagine that after an hour of runtime this would be a fault problem, so if you havent noticed that i'm guessing you arent going to, the viscosity of the mineral oil shouldnt change very much. i've got a 1250 watt psu so i'm curious if that would arc more and cause more of an issue. However as you can probably imagine i'm not using anywhere near its capacity. So its curious lol.

Obviuously i'm still very wary and researching heavily because i dont want to toast my gaming rig, but i will continue to try to find out what psu's people are successfully dunking for a duration, Malkaris is one i would really like to hear from i know he's consuming huge amounts of power with mining. so my answer may lie with him.

as i told him THANK YOU so much for your post it's invaluable to me!

no power issues. I explained the few issues I had with hardware. one new observation that warm oil (60degC) will quickly stiffen PVC parts like USB insulation. it doesn't fail, just won't bend anymore.
glj12 (author)  wrinklemonster5 months ago

A couple of things I can point out that may or may not help are: it was a lower wattage PSU from when this project was developed in 2007, probably no PSU bleeding, and I didn't have anything moisture sealed. The system was on continuously as a server for more than 5 years and I didn't notice any issues with it whatsoever.

No problem, I'm glad that you have found this article useful, even after 7 years of its posting!

dcollette13 months ago
do you need the fan? because isn't the whole point to eliminate All noise?
lord slender5 months ago

maybe if you tried adding a peltiere cold plate to the top of the tank? you could rely on the convection inside the tank to bring warm oil up to the plate then it will sink as it cools?

mmackinnon110 months ago
Does anyone know of an alternative to mineral oil due to the cost eg. automotive, industrial, cosmetic, food related... or a gel powder mix added to water? - please and thanks
Mike

You could use motor oil, not sure if it would be cheaper. I considered using synthetic oil, something that stays fluid until -40, then you could "cryogenic" cool the oil. Generally not necessary, but who knows what people might do.

The trick is something that won't conduct, and doesn't corrode or dissolve the parts.

piratus8 months ago
what happen after 1 year ; does it have probleme with dust ; or do we have change the oil sometimes ?! thanks ;)
glj12 (author)  piratus8 months ago
Hi Piratus,

Nothing happened after one year, other than a negligible amount of mineral oil was missing. I could have topped it off, but that would not have made any difference. No need to change the oil, other than after a few years maybe add a bit more.

Cheers!
markowen_36910 months ago
Baby oil is mineral oil one is scented, I guess "Awlatmg" is referencing a commercial grade mineral over a residential grade. Got some at Sams Club for next to nothing saved me a trip to a farming supply store / chemical reseller... Wiki me good.
awlatmg10 months ago
Clear oil, yes lamp oil is cheap at Ikea, but that would light on fire. Baby oil works well and smells good, try that got some from the dollar store. Mineral oil will last longer than baby oil, mineral oil for Mineral $15-20 per quart at 5-6 quart - $100 vs. Baby oil $5-10 per quart at 5-6 quart - $50, the baby oil is 25% less efficient. If it were changed once every two years the baby oil is better value but need to be change on a more regular basis depending on use. The mineral oil is better for overclocking and longevity. If it’s a day to day pc, mineral if it’s a show piece baby oil. I took an old tv removed the tube built a tank with plexi and silicone, mineral oil rocks pumps décor and light for less than $150. Looks amazing and I use it as a media server for my home and now I don’t have to feed my fish.
tfarris11 months ago
Contact me I wanna know if this requires any special kind of mineral oil if not I would like to know ASAP what I can put under the oil and what I can't and how to keep it moving around I'm also wondering how much it would cost to convert my PC to a mineral oil pc
bet it doesnt over heat a lot due to that mineral oil
Qoute, "sockeye101says: this is why they use oil as a coolant in transformers. however, after a while it becomes radioactive/ toxic/ poisonous or something like that. BEWARE!" Actually what happens to the mineral oil in transformers is the oil can absorb moisture and break down due to internal arcs in the core of the transformer. The moisture forms sludge, and the arcs break down the oil into several different compounds, one of which is acetylene. This darkens the oil and can introduce carbon into the oil from being broken down by arcing. Transformers that do this are usually found during routine oil sampling and repaired. Unless you put something radioactive into the oil, it won't become radioactive. Toxic/poisionous is a possibility if anything shorts or arcs in the oil; or if the oil breaks down the wire insulation. As an intersting note HV transformer cores contain wood and paper as insulation, along with the silicon steel core and the copper windings. The mineral oil in transformers usually has a breakdown threshold of say, 3kV or so, found by using a oil tester made by Doble. I work for a company that builds HV circuit breakers and am familar with transformers. Cool setup though!!
I don't think you understand something.... When was the last time you saw a computer 'arc' any electricity? Never. That's because they don't. You're not even comparing "Apples to Oranges" more like "Squid to Invader Zim." The reaction you're explaining will positively never happen in a computer, it doesn't have the 'capacity' to do so.
Computers are electric devices. Short them out and they'll arc. They've plenty of 'capacity' to do so.
"Computers are electric devices"
Yes indeed.

"Short them out and they'll arc."
Not much and not very long. Poof! they stop working.

"They've plenty of 'capacity' to do so."
Not enough to cause mineral oil to become radioactive/ toxic/ poisonous - which was the whole point of the original comment.
"Squid to Invader Zim." LOL
I've seen a computer power supply arc. Shortly afterwards, it let all the smoke out of the computer, so it didn't work anymore, though. I'd still be concerned that a shorted power supply MAY be able to produce enough heat to cause a problem, but without having done any experimentation with mineral oil, I don't know what kind of heat we'd be talking about.
Here's the thing though: Even if it did have that affect on food grade mineral oil, a Power Supply that is in the process of 'arcing electricity' will very quickly fail. End of Computer. It likely won't process long enough to make any mineral oil toxic.
Indeed, once the smoke is let out the PC doesn't work anymore. :/
Nyxius Javin0073 years ago
computers may not arc, but anything over a couple of volts has bleed. Same results as arcing, but longer to achieve.
As I've researched the concept of using mineral oil to cool a PC I've yet to encounter anything remotely related to the following: "oil can absorb moisture and break down due to internal arcs in the core of the transformer. The moisture forms sludge, and the arcs break down the oil into several different compounds, one of which is acetylene. This darkens the oil and can introduce carbon into the oil from being broken down by arcing." This is explaining something that occurs in Industrial HIGH VOLTAGE conditions using non-food-grade mineral oil. It is so far off base when compared to the voltage and output of a PC power supply that it is silly to contemplate happening whether a Power Supply temporarily arcs (and then dies) or over a period of time 'bleeds.' It... will... not... happen. It cannot happen, a power supply doesn't have the 'umph' to do so.
I'm not saying that it is enough to cause a problem for circuitry. And it will definitely not be observable. I too have done a large amount of research into electro-chemical reactions, and I actually used a computer power supply as one of my tools for awhile (until I could afford to buy a supply with more juice). Mineral oil is probable fine to use as an insulator, but I would recommend filtration or replacement at least once per year. I don't know how hygroscopic mineral oil is, but I do know that breakdown can occur in non polar fluids due to induced London Effect charge, and I know that any impurities in the oil will aggravate that by increasing any dielectric. Increased dielectric = increased probability of reaction.
And he might be thinking of cfc oil
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