QKD provides security in power grid

ORNL quantum researchers, from left, Brian Williams, Phil Evans and Nick Peters work on their QKD system. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A team from the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge and Los Alamos national laboratories led a QKD demonstration in power grid hosted by EPB, a community-based utility and telecommunications company.

Using an isolated portion of EPB’s fiber-optic network, the team experimented with quantum-based technologies that could improve the cybersecurity, longevity and efficiency of the nation’s power grid. Among other successes, the researchers drastically increased the range that these resources can cover in collaboration with their new industry partner, Qubitekk.

During this year’s demonstration, the researchers placed their systems and a new system developed by Qubitekk, a QKD developer and manufacturer, in electrical substations in Chattanooga, USA. These substations were connected by the piece of EPB’s fiber-optic network set aside for testing and served as pitstops that allowed each system to pass a key to the next system.

Storing the QKD systems in substations—boxes surrounded by buildings, cameras, fences and other security measures—provided cyber and physical protection.

In addition to extending the physical distance over which these systems can communicate, the trusted node approach also benefits utility providers by allowing additional substations to exist on the quantum network. As a result, the control center can communicate and securely issue critical instructions to all substations simultaneously.

The team hopes to deploy more QKD resources in the national grid system to see these same advancements on a much larger scale. (Phys.org)

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