SK Telecom leads demonstration of quantum-based gas sensing system at LNG terminal

[Courtesy of SK Telecom]

SEOUL – SK Telecom, a leading mobile operator in South Korea, will lead South Korea’s first project to demonstrate a quantum-based gas sensor system that can detect real-time gas leaks at a large LNG terminal using a single-photon detector with an ultra-sensitive sensitivity that exceeds even a small one amount of light can be detected.

SK Telecom (SKT) said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Boryeong LNG Terminal and Quantum Sensing, a domestic optical instrument maker, to launch a gas sensing system at an LNG storage tank in Boryeong, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) away, next year install ) southwest of Seoul. SKT will supply key components and lead the location of the equipment through collaboration with Quantum Sensing.

The quantum sensors recognize protons and convert them into electrical signals. Quantum sensing describes the use of a quantum system, quantum properties, or quantum phenomena to measure a physical quantity. It offers new possibilities, especially with regard to high sensitivity and precision, in applied physics and other scientific fields.

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A quantum sensor uses properties of quantum mechanics that have an optimized precision and exceed current limits in sensor technology. The field of quantum sensing deals with the design and construction of quantum wells and quantum measurements capable of outperforming any classical strategy. Quantum sensors have applications in a variety of fields.

“By applying quantum technology to the field of domestic gas security, we will present a new paradigm for gas security,” said Ha Min-yong, SKT’s chief development officer, in a statement Sept. 20. “We will extend the application to gas production bases and various places where there is a risk of gas leaks, and extend it to environmental fields that detect various gas leaks in the area.”

Chemical reactions or infrared ray-based gas leakage methods have been used to monitor large gas plants. When installed outdoors, the detection ability of conventional methods was reduced due to the influence of the wind, and the detection distance was short, making it difficult to measure the gas concentration.

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Quantum gas sensing can determine various pieces of information, such as the concentration and volume of gas, by measuring the number of light grains from reflected waves that return after a laser shoots at an escaping gas, SKT said, adding that they also measure the shape Gas leaks can be identified, for example, by laser scanning, which enables real-time monitoring from the point of gas leakage to the direction of diffusion.

SKT’s subsidiary, ID Quantique (IDQ), a Geneva-based leader in quantum-secure cryptography and quantum sensor solutions, will supply a single-photon detector dubbed “ID Qube,” a key component equivalent to the laser receiver of quantum gas sensors, which has ultra-sensitive sensitivity and can detect even a small amount of light.

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A consortium led by SKT was selected for a state project to build and operate a pilot infrastructure for quantum cryptographic communication. The project aims to ensure the stability of emergency communication networks in key industrial facilities such as nuclear power plants and strengthen the protection of key data and personal information of public institutions.

Quantum cryptography has emerged as an essential security solution to protect critical information in the 5G era. Data encoded in a quantum state is virtually unhackable without quantum keys, which are basically random number tables used to decrypt encrypted information.

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