U.S. officials award $1 million to company studying blockchain's use in power grid security

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded more than $1 million to software company InfoBeyond Technology LLC, according to a report from the agency.

The project, titled "Gridchain: An Auditable Blockchain for Smart Grid Data Integrity and Immutability," received the grant in this week's selection for Phase II research and development (R&D) stage-level projects. The project passed the first stage of the development process on March 31. Gridchain aims to support data security in a large-scale power system. 

In the DOE report, InfoBeyond described its project as a way to improve the national power grid's security and protect data against potential cyberattacks. 

"Gridchain, a blockchain-based technology, uses techniques that ensure the integrity and immutability of power grid data and provides a critical infrastructure with an entirely new level of resiliency to cybersecurity threats," Bin Xie, the project's principal investigator and InfoBeyond founder, told The Block.

Several solutions have been considered to help combat these threats, according to InfoBeyond. However, a few core issues remain unresolved, including the lack of an efficient and scalable blockchain design, smart contract security and data feed integrity, among other areas.

The project is the first effort that integrates blockchain with the Open Field Message Bus (OpenFMB) architecture, a grid framework adopted by the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) that focuses on distributed intelligence and interoperability. Coupling these technologies together is a way to reduce centralized control and management of power grids, Xie told The Block.

"Furthermore, it allows distributed intelligence and grid-edge interoperability at the circuit level, empowered by a distributed architecture for grid data exchange," he said.

The grant, funded through DOE's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, is awarded in Phase II of the development stage called "Continue R&D for Prototypes or Processes" by the DOE. The total time allotted for project duration is two years, according to a DOE report.

InfoBeyond Technology LLC is one of the 92 businesses in 31 states that is being supported by DOE's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The grant is part of a broader DOE program aimed at funding small businesses through 105 grants, with a total of $116 million distributed between them. 

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