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The U.S. Department of Energy AlgaePrize 2023-2025

The AlgaePrize is a national algal-based competition that challenges students to become the next generation of bioeconomy professionals.

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stage:
Submission Deadline
prize:
$215,000

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Summary

Overview

Welcome to the U.S. Department of Energy AlgaePrize!

The AlgaePrize 2023-2025 Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office and supported by The Algae Foundation and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), challenges students to become the next generation of bioeconomy professionals by expanding novel solutions to production, processing, and new product development on the way to gigaton-scale algae commercialization. AlgaePrize 2023–2025, is part of DOE’s American-Made Challenges, which represents a series of unique prize competitions designed to incentivize and reenergize American innovation in the energy marketplace.

The AlgaePrize 2023-2025 competition is open to teams of two or more students currently enrolled in a U.S.-based high school, community college, college, university, or graduate program. The competition will span two academic years. Students will learn about the algae industry and will go on to support the nation’s biofuel research, algal commercial enhancement, and promote industry-driven education, training, and workforce development. 

Competitors will prepare creative solutions for real-world issues in the algae value chain. Students will compete to earn prize money and national recognition.

The three areas of interest for the AlgaePrize include both microalgae and macroalgae. Student teams should focus their project on one of the following areas of interest: 

1. Production 

  • Cultivar enhancement   
  • Aquaculture engineering  
  • Husbandry and productivity   

2. Downstream Processing 

  • Harvesting, dewatering, and preprocessing  
  • Development of biorefinery applications  

3. Novel Products, Analytical Tools, or Ecosystem Services 

  • New product development  
  • Remote sensing and modeling   
  • Ecosystem services 

This competition will award two separate rounds of prizes:

  • Research Synopsis Prize: The first stage of judging will result in up to 15 student teams being selected as AlgaePrize finalists. Each finalist team will be awarded $10,000. Of the prize, $8,000 to be paid upon notice of finalist selection and an additional $2,000 in support of travel upon submissions of the research program’s final report.
  • Final Awards: Finalist teams will present their research at the AlgaePrize competition event. The five top student teams will be selected as AlgaePrize champions. Each champion team will be awarded an additional $10,000 prize. The five champion teams will then present their research to a final panel of judges. These judges will select a single Grand Champion and award the Grand Champion an additional $15,000 grand prize.

The five champion teams will be invited to participate in a national algal-based conference or symposium, such as the Algae Biomass Summit in the fall of 2025 to present their research and network with conference participants from the national and international algae community.

Previous Programs

The Official Rules document provides a framework for research work, submissions, and judging evaluation.

Please see the AlgaePrize 2023-2025 Rules.


Guidelines

The Official Rules document provides a framework for research work, submissions, and judging evaluation. 

Please see the AlgaePrize 2023-2025 Rules.

 Registration opens on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.

Products made from algae are the natural solution to the energy, food, economic, and climate challenges facing our world today. Algae have the power to simultaneously put fuels in our vehicles, recycle carbon dioxide, provide nutrition for animals and humans, and create jobs for millions of Americans.

Goals

Student competitors will learn about the algae industry and will go on to support the nation’s biofuel research, algal commercial enhancement, and promote industry-driven education, training, and workforce development. 

Over the next two years, student competitors will: 

  • Gain experience with innovative algal commercialization technologies
  • Develop real-world solutions that shape the global future of algae by producing biofuels, biofoods, biofeeds, and industrial compounds (e.g., biopolymers)
  • Develop collaborative and leadership skills by working on multidisciplinary student teams
  • Engage and network with industry professionals, national lab researchers, and academics to forge relationships and connections that aid students’ transition to the algal-based bioeconomy employment or entrepreneurial endeavors upon graduation
  • Compete to earn prize money, a trophy, and national recognition. 

Rules

The Official Rules Document provides a framework for research work, submissions, and judging evaluation. Please see the AlgaePrize 2023-2025 Rules.

Competitors will prepare creative solutions for real-world issues in the algae value chain. Qualifying teams will complete a research project and attend the AlgaePrize competition event where teams: 

  • Present their research to panels of judges
  • Compare their projects to those of other teams
  • Tour the NREL facilities
  • Engage with a variety of organizations about careers related to algae technology, cultivation, and market development.

Road to Success

  • Registration: Students (see the Eligibility Section below) are encouraged to form student teams, consider the competition’s three algae research areas of interest (detailed above) and select one, and develop an innovative and novel research project within that area. Register prior to the deadline with your team’s abstract.
  • Submission: During this step your team should complete your team’s full research synopsis and take a team photo and submit both of these items by the deadline.
  • Assessment: All teams’ Research Synopses will be reviewed and scored by a panel of judges, based on the review criteria. The week following the deadline for submitting research synopses, a panel of judges will assess and score the synopses based on the review criteria. At the conclusion of the assessment, the panel of judges will select up to 15 finalist teams to participate in the competition.
  • Announcement: All teams will be notified of the selections and each winning team will be awarded $10,000 to assist with their research and travel efforts.
  • Social Media Postings:  After selection as a finalist team, each team is requested to post a minimum of one new social media posting on either Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Snapchat each month from selection as a finalist team (January 2024-April 2025).  Each team will forward the posting to the manager of the AlgaePrize 2023-2025 contest. 
  • Research and Updates: After selection and announcement of the winning finalist teams, the teams will have the next year to complete their proposed research projects and include three five-page research updates throughout the competition year. All submission deadlines can be found in the Timeline tab.
  • AlgaePrize Competition Weekend: The finalist teams are expected to participate in the AlgaePrize competition event, the AlgaePrize Weekend. Each team is expected to send at least one student and one faculty advisor to this competition event. The team presentation during this event must be given by a student team member and not the faculty advisor. The event will be held in-person at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado on April 11-13, 2025. Over the course of the AlgaePrize Weekend, the finalist teams will participate in event activities including presenting their research projects to a panel of judges. The judges will select and announce the top five research teams as the competition winners. These five teams will then present to a final panel of judges. Following a 10-minute question and answer session with the final panel of judges, a Grand Champion will be selected!

Eligibility

The AlgaePrize invites participation of teams composed of at least two student members enrolled in a U.S.-based educational institution (high school, accredited community college, college, university and/or graduate school). Students must be enrolled in at least one class and must be pursuing a degree or diploma at the time a student joins a team. Teams with students from multiple educational institutions are allowed, and multiple teams from the same educational institution are allowed. However, individual students may be members of only one team. The student team captain must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. 

Each team must have a faculty advisor employed by a U.S.-based educational institution to provide input, guidance, and support. Judges, competition organizers, federal employees, and national laboratory employees are not eligible to compete in the competition. Immediate family members of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Algae Foundation, and NREL employees are not eligible to compete in the competition.

Student participation may be integrated into a senior project or thesis, count as elective or independent study course credit, be added to the curriculum of existing classes, treated as a seminar topic, engaged in as part of a student interest club, or be an extracurricular student activity.

High School Competitors: Student teams composed of all high school students under the age of 18 must have their faculty advisor register the team on HeroX. Each high school may support more than one team. High school students may not be on multiple teams.

*All required rules are documented in the AlgaePrize 2023-2025 Rules. Please see the AlgaePrize 2023-2025 Rules.

Timeline
Updates2

Challenge Updates

Follow our AlgaePrize 2023-2025 Finalist Teams on social media!

April 3, 2024, 3:01 p.m. PDT by Serena Chen

Every month up until the competition weekend in April 2025, our 15 finalist teams in the U.S. Department of Energy AlgaePrize will be sharing updates on their team social accounts about their groundbreaking algal research. By following their accounts, you'll dive deeper into each team's journey, discover engaging photos, and keep up with their latest progress. Don't miss out on connecting with these future bioeconomy leaders! Click below to follow them now: 

🔍 AlgaeNano+ 
🔍 AlgaeUnlocked
🔍 Algators
🔍 Aloha Limu
🔍 BlazerBloom
🔍 Blue Genes
🔍 Clean Green Feed
🔍 Green Skies
🔍 Green Thumbs
🔍 JCCC Chlorella Cavaliers
🔍 Just AD Algae
🔍 KelBerry
🔍 Parachlorella Plastic Pals
🔍 Team ASAP
🔍 The Algenius Thinkers


15 Finalist Teams Announced for AlgaePrize 2023–2025 Competition

Feb. 1, 2024, 10:28 a.m. PST by Algae Prize

Provided by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and written by Justin Rickard | Contact media relations.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced 15 student teams advancing as finalists in the AlgaePrize 2023–2025 competition. This year’s finalist teams include students from high schools, community colleges, and universities from 12 states across the United States and Puerto Rico.

Each finalist team receives $10,000 to conduct their proposed research over the next approximately 15 months. Teams will then present their project results to a panel of judges during the AlgaePrize Competition Weekend, April 11–13, 2025, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado.

“Congratulations to the student teams selected as finalists for the second iteration of the AlgaePrize. The research ideas that were selected are unique, creative, and innovative and are designed to expand the way we think about pathways for using algal biomass for biofuels and bioproducts,” said Lieve Laurens, senior researcher and lead of NREL’s algae platform. “I know that the NREL algae research team is eager to meet the teams and see the final results presented here in Golden, Colorado, in spring 2025.”

The AlgaePrize is a DOE BETO national competition, in partnership with the Algae Foundation and NREL, which encourages students to pursue innovative ideas for the development, design, and invention of technologies within the commercial algae value chain.

This year’s competition is part of DOE’s American-Made Challenges, which represents a series of unique prize competitions designed to incentivize and reenergize American innovation in the energy marketplace.

Finalist Teams Hail From Hawaii to Puerto Rico

See below for the AlgaePrize finalist team names, locations, and brief descriptions of their proposed projects:

  • AlgaeNano+, San Juan, Puerto Rico: Developing carbon nanomaterials from macroalgae for use in high-demand industries like battery manufacturing, energy, and environmental remediation.
  • AlgaeUnlocked, Carbondale, Illinois: Exploring a low-energy, cost-effective, and efficient process for preparing microalgae for conversion into biostimulants and biofuels.
  • Algators, Livingston, New Jersey: Investigating algal biomass as an alternative nonsynthetic fertilizer for a local farm.
  • Aloha Limu, Hilo, Hawaii: Studying vertical seaweed cultivation methods to diversify and scale up production of native Hawaiian macroalgal species.
  • BlazerBloom, Frederick, Maryland: Using bioflocculation with magnetotactic bacteria to harvest and dewater microalgae for conversion into biofuels production.
  • Blue Genes, Fairfield, California: Creating an algae-derived dye with a focus on process optimization, improving output, and as a method to teach the community about algal products.
  • Clean Green Feed, Storrs, Connecticut: Producing a sustainable strain of microalgae high in methionine for use in chicken feeds.
  • Green Skies, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Applying machine-learning techniques to analyze land suitability, water stress, and economic factors to identify the best sites for Midwest microalgae growth.
  • Green Thumbs, Golden, Colorado: Working to improve the harvestability of saltwater microalgae by using a novel pH-mediated-electroflocculation method.
  • JCCC Chlorella Cavaliers, Overland Park, Kansas: Developing a novel strain of Chlorella expressing plastic degrading enzymes to improve water quality in ecosystems.
  • Just AD Algae, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Preparing a scalable system to codigest microalgae with organic lipid waste resulting in decreased biogas production lag and increased biogas yield.
  • KelBerry, Storrs, Connecticut: Employing sugar kelp alginate as an edible food coating to extend strawberry shelf life.
  • Parachlorella Plastic Pals, La Jolla, California: Creating algae-based, biodegradable thermoplastic polyurethanes.
  • Team ASAP, Camas, Washington; Los Angeles and Irvine, California: Developing an efficient and scalable process for the industrialization of sporophyte generation.
  • The Algenius Thinkers, Austin, Texas: Studying the production of long-chain fatty acids from algae into short-chain fatty acids for lower biofuel production costs.

Finalists for the second iteration of the AlgaePrize were selected by a panel of judges based on detailed synopses that described each team’s proposed research plan within the AlgaePrize’s areas of interest.

“For this second iteration of the AlgaePrize the student teams brought their creative spirit. The students really challenged themselves to think outside the box,” said Christy Sterner, BETO technology manager and DOE’s AlgaePrize program manager. “The selected finalist teams’ research plans contain truly imaginative project ideas to advance sustainable algal-based technologies in the bioeconomy. This round of the AlgaePrize includes everything from machine learning to food coatings to chicken feed to farm fertilizers to plastics, representing just a few great ideas the students proposed.”

Learn more about the AlgaePrize and the finalist teams, and follow #AlgaePrize on social media to receive the latest news. 

The AlgaePrize is sponsored by BETO with support from the Algae Foundation and NREL. The AlgaePrize is part of the American-Made Challenges, a series of prize competitions designed to incentivize and reenergize American innovation in the energy marketplace. 


Forum6
Teams699
Tainos de Puerto RIco at Santa Fe New Mexico Tainos de Puerto RIco at Santa Fe New Mexico
5 team members
Looking for members
Mikros Prasino Mikros Prasino
3 team members
Looking for members
Algae Reclaimers Algae Reclaimers
7 team members
Looking for members
Añadir Añadir
5 team members
Looking for members
Hudson DeYoe's team Hudson DeYoe's team
6 team members
Looking for members
Green Thumbs Green Thumbs
3 team members
Looking for members
Algae Studio Algae Studio
3 team members
Looking for members
AlgaeNano+ AlgaeNano+
7 team members
Looking for members
Green Skies Green Skies
3 team members
Looking for members
FLOURish with Algae FLOURish with Algae
5 team members
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Algae Hero Algae Hero
4 team members
Looking for members
Blue Genes Blue Genes
21 team members
Looking for members
Spiral Cyantists Spiral Cyantists
4 team members
Looking for members
Chem Stars Chem Stars
1 team member
Looking for members
The Chlams The Chlams
3 team members
Looking for members
Beaver Bioproducts Beaver Bioproducts
3 team members
Looking for members
Aloha Limu Aloha Limu
3 team members
Looking for members
Robert Pomeroy's team Robert Pomeroy's team
19 team members
Looking for members
William Franklin's team William Franklin's team
2 team members
Looking for members
The evolve The evolve
3 team members
Looking for members
KelBerry KelBerry
5 team members
Looking for members
Algators Algators
11 team members
Looking for members
Team Greencrete Team Greencrete
5 team members
Looking for members
Winter is coming (for algae)! Winter is coming (for algae)!
6 team members
Looking for members
Parachlorella Plastic Pals Parachlorella Plastic Pals
4 team members
Looking for members
Team ASAP Team ASAP
6 team members
Looking for members
Algae-Bunny Algae-Bunny
2 team members
Looking for members
Bio-band Bio-band
4 team members
Looking for members
MARIA DE LOURDES NEDER's team MARIA DE LOURDES NEDER's team
1 team member
Looking for members
The Algenius Thinkers The Algenius Thinkers
9 team members
Looking for members
DuKaTi DuKaTi
1 team member
Looking for members
Algaetecture Algaetecture
3 team members
Looking for members
Better than Wild Better than Wild
3 team members
Looking for members
JCCC Chlorella Cavaliers JCCC Chlorella Cavaliers
7 team members
Looking for members
AlgaePrize Sample Team AlgaePrize Sample Team
2 team members
Looking for members
Mongata Spirulina Mongata Spirulina
5 team members
Looking for members
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