The race is on to become the next mainstream cryptocurrency that doesn't contribute millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions due to unsustainable mining practices.
Now, a new cryptocurrency called Chia, founded by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen, is promising to make mining cryptocurrencies at home a whole lot easier and sustainable.
But it may have an Achilles heel that could make it a lot less useful to the average person than the company likes to think, as Tom's Guide reports.
Chia's secret sauce is an entirely new way to mine, a process the company is calling "farming."
Rather than completing complex and taxing calculations on beefy computational hardware — such is the case for any "proof of work"-based cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin — Chia can be "farmed" by using unused storage on practically any device.
Chia's farming concept relies on a consensus model called Proof of Space and Time (PoST).
"Unlike most projects, coin ownership has nothing to do with the protocol — this is not Proof of Stake," Chia COO Gene Hoffman told CoinDesk in February.
PoST works by "provers" showing that they can "allocate unused hard drive space for storage space," according to the company's FAQ. In other words, it's "a way to prove that you are keeping some storage unused on your hard-disk drive."
Other users will "seed" unused space through a special software to build "plots." New blockchain challenges then reveal which farmer's seed comes closest, kind of like a massive game of Bingo.
The process also happens to be way more energy efficient according to the company, minimizing electricity waste.
While that may sound like a wholesome way of mining cryptocurrencies, the approach comes with a major downside.
According to Tom's Guide, this back and forth of allocating and then freeing up space on storage devices could age solid state drives (SSD) incredibly fast. In fact, a consumer grade 512GB SSD could be killed in just 40 days while farming Chia, according to Tom's Guide's reporting.
Luckily, specialized storage devices are already hitting the market, with some of them designed specifically for Chia farming. Such drives will likely cost you a pretty penny, however.
Chia has gained significant momentum over the last week, jumping by more than 50 percent.
It's still far too early to tell if Chia has what it takes to join the big leagues — but any cryptocurrency that sidesteps using vast amounts of electricity generated using coal and fossil fuels could have a pretty decent shot right now.
READ MORE: Chia crypto mining could kill your SSD in 40 days — here’s why [Tom's Guide]