Quantum Computing

Quantum Sensing is a US Department of Energy Priority

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Insider Summary

  • A senior commercialization executive at the Energy Office of Technology Transitions said NextGov quantum sensing is a DOE priority.
  • The US power grid uses global positioning technology, but quantum sensors have the power to report data directly from the power grid.
  • Critical Quote: “If we had quantum sensors instead of distributed… where they needed to be, then it would be much harder to disrupt the system.” — Rima Oueid

Quantum sensing research and development has been identified as one of the Department of Energy’s priorities because the technology holds promise for power grid efficiency and sustainability efforts, according to next governor.

Rima Oueid, senior commercialization executive at the Office of Energy Technology Transition, told NextGov that the agency’s larger goal is to implement quantum information science and technology, or QIST, within existing infrastructure.

Quantum sensors, currently used in magnetic resonance imaging machines and atomic clocks, can report more accurate data depending on critical infrastructure, according to the site. The US power grid uses global positioning technology to transmit positioning, navigation and time information. However, quantum sensors have the power to report PNT data directly from the power grid rather than satellite-based GPS sources, making the network more resilient to climate change. Quantum sensors can also be used for grid monitoring and anomaly detection.

Oueid says that there are different types of quantum sensors that can be used directly on the network for timing, rather than relying on GPS. If quantum sensors replaced GPS PNT information, they could enable GPS-denied areas to access the network, and infrastructure security would benefit because satellite interference would not be a concern.

“If we have quantum sensors instead of distributed… where they have to be, then it will be more difficult to disrupt the system,” he told NextGov.

The ultimate goal is to fully incorporate distributed energy resources, including wind, solar and electric vehicles, into the central electricity grid to act as an energy asset. While certain market forces should align with Energi’s efforts to spur widespread adoption and integration of electric vehicles, quantum sensors can use PNT data to help signal vehicles when renewable energy is available on the grid to charge their batteries.

Quantum sensors are also being studied for their potential to track climate change with more precise algorithms, as well as conducting exploration of the subsurface level to find potential underground carbon stores in an effort to reduce fracking activities.

Oueid noted that the possibilities are tremendous, telling NextGov that “there are lots of different use cases that can help us make systems smarter and more efficient to help mitigate the climate change problem.”

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