TNO is running several blockchains (“distributed ledgers”) in its Blockchain Lab. The purpose of running these blockchains is to learn, in particular to learn how different blockchain technologies work, to learn what it takes to run blockchain infrastructure, and to learn what use cases are enabled by blockchain. This knowledge is applied in research, collaborative and customer projects. The Blockchain Laboratory provides a one-stop-shop for all questions and requests for collaboration and engagement.
The supported blockchains fall in three categories.
- Private: TNO is in full control of all nodes in the blockchain.
- Consortium: TNO is running a blockchain node in a consortium, other consortium partners are running other blockchain nodes, and only consortium members have access to the blockchain.
- Public: TNO is running a node of a blockchain where anyone in the world can access the blockchain.
Most of TNO’s blockchain nodes run on their own virtual machine in the TNO Research Cloud, which is a research infrastructure that is used by many TNO projects. The TNO Blockchain Lab hosts the following technologies.
TNO has built two private clones of bitcoin, the mother of all blockchains/cryptocurrencies. These are used in TNO’s DarkWeb Training (Mark van Staalduinen, Rolf van Wegberg), which was developed in collaboration with INTERPOL and TU Delft. One bitcoin clone is used in a fake dark market, where digital detectives can learn how buyers and sellers of illegal good act on the dark web. The other bitcoin clone is used for hands-on training with bitcoin, including confiscation and forensics.
Ethereum is a blockchain technology for smart contracts, which are little programs that run in the blockchain. TNO is studying smart-contract security (Maarten Everts) in several projects in the Techruption program, with Dutch Blockchain Coalition and TNO-internal knowledge projects, using a private Ethereum blockchain. TNO is running one of the nodes of the Techruption Consortium Blockchain (Oskar van Deventer), which is an Ethereum consortium blockchain that was developed in collaboration with Accenture and Ledger Leopard. Other nodes are with Rabobank, APG, Bloqzone and BSSC. The blockchain was developed to learn the operational, governance and business-model challenges of running a blockchain infrastructure. There are plans to further develop it into a testing infrastructure for Techruption start-ups, BSSC customers and Techruption blockchain use cases, the latter currently running at private Ethereum network. TNO and Techruption are talking with Intrachain, which is an envisioned European infrastructure for the rapid deployment of consortium blockchains. Also TNO’s in Singapore, together with iTrust and SUTD, focusses on Ethereum.
Sovrin is a public blockchain for self-sovereign identity (SSI), based on Hyperledger Indy technology. TNO runs a public node as Sovrin Steward. TNO is an active contributor in the Sovrin community, and has a position in its Economic Advisory Council (Oskar van Deventer). Sovrin is one of the technologies in TNO’s Self-Sovereign Integration Lab (Rieks Joosten), which also hosts non-blockchain SSI technologies. TNO is performing a wide spectrum of SSI-related use cases and projects within the Techruption program, in collaboration with Dutch Blockchain Coalition, and TNO-internal knowledge projects.
BigchainDB is the technology that is used for the Interplanetary Database (IPDB), which is a minimalistic and highly scalable database-type blockchain. TNO is running a private BigchainDB blockchain for projects in food provenance (Cristopher Brewster). TNO is planning participation in IPDB.
Monero is a cryptocurrency that provides privacy to its users, shielding the identity of senders and receivers, shielding transaction amounts and preventing transaction correlation. TNO is running a public Monero node in a TNO-sponsored project (Maarten Everts) with Dutch stakeholders to learn the properties and usage of these upcoming 'privacy coins'.
Hyperledger Fabric is a technology for consortium blockchain that uses channels to guard the confidentiality of transactions between groups of participants. TNO is currently not using its private Hyperledger blockchain in projects.
Semantic-Distributed Ledger Technology
TNO is developing semantic ledger technology (Jacco Spek) for rapid deployment of semantically interoperable use cases. The technology, building on BigChainDB, can be configured by ontologies and supports configurable business rules. A set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) has been developed that supports this functionality.
Morpheus (Wout Hofman), an infrastructure for rapid development and deployment of ledger technology in supply and logistics (Smart-Rail), is built on top Semantic-Distributed Ledger Technology. Ontologies and interaction patterns for data sharing in supply and logistics have been developed and are the basis for developing supply and logistics APIs utilizing those of the Semantic-Distributed Ledger Technology. First experiments have been performed for rail and commodity trading.
Dr. Oskar van Deventer is the director of the TNO Blockchain Laboratory and brings a wealth of experience in network technology, standards and interoperability.