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On U.S. oil patches stretching along the Rockies and Great Plains, trailers hitched to trucks back up toward well pads to capture natural gas and convert it on the spot into electricity.

The trailers — carrying pipes, generators and computers — are called “mining rigs.” But their owners aren’t there to drill for oil. They are using stray natural gas unwanted by oil companies to power their search for another treasure: cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

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