American-Made Challenges


DAC Pre-Commercial Technology Prize

Teams identify a critical need in the direct air capture (DAC) industry, develop a solution, and test the idea to a degree of scale.

This challenge is closed

Judging Closed

This challenge is closed



The Direct Air Capture (DAC) Pre-Commercial Technology Prize awards up to $3.2 million in cash prizes and $800,000 in technical assistance vouchers to teams that identify a critical need in the DAC industry, develop a solution to address this gap, and test the idea to a degree of scale. It focuses on the steps of ideation and entrepreneurship needed to prepare technologies and businesses for commercialization.

Accelerating Just and Sustainable Carbon Management Solutions 

The DAC Pre-Commercial Technology Prize (DAC Technology Prize) is part of a suite of interconnected competitions in the American-Made DAC Prize program. Understanding that there are several steps to move from an idea to a marketable product, the DAC Prizes are a suite of prizes that work together to advance carbon dioxide removal technologies and the incubators that make this process possible. 

Direct air capture is technically challenging compared to other carbon capture systems, which prevent the release of additional emissions. However, it is an increasingly important tool in counterbalancing hard-to-decarbonize sectors. Because of this, the DAC Technology Prize focuses on developing DAC technology innovations, such as novel materials or systems integration, that will accelerate opportunities and successes in the industry.  

Who Can Compete?

Competitors or teams who meet eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply to the initial phase of the prize (see the official rules for eligibility criteria). Diverse, multidisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged; competitors interested in collaborating can connect on HeroX on the “Teams” page.  

Prize Structure

Teams win increasingly larger prizes as they successfully meet technology milestones over the course of the three phases: Develop, Design, and Deliver. Each phase requires compounding progress of DAC technology development.


Develop Phase requirements:

  • Identify a breakthrough solution to a critical need in the direct air capture industry
  • Develop a conceptual design for a bench-scale proof of concept system
  • Craft a validation plan for the technology, and more. 


Only winners of the Develop Phase are eligible to compete in the Design Phase. 

Design Phase requirements: 

  • Finalize the design and cost of solution
  • Conduct preliminary analyses and risk assessments
  • Develop a preliminary community benefits plan and monitoring, reporting, and verification plan
  • Develop engineering, procurement, construction, and testing plans
  • Schedule to validate the DAC technology.


Only winners of the Design Phase are eligible to compete in the Deliver Phase. 

Deliver Phase requirements:

  • Construct and test solutions
  • Develop a plan and design for the next scale of integrated system testing
  • Submit a long-term plan for the ongoing success of the technology
  • Identify partners and incorporate feedback to advance the solution from bench- to pilot-scale.


Please review the official rules for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please follow this HeroX page, subscribe to the American-Made Newsletter, or email prize administrators directly at 

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, the DAC Prizes suite is supported by the National Energy Technology Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Learn more about the DAC Prizes


Challenge Updates

DEADLINE ALERT! DAC Tech Prize Submissions Due Today By 5 p.m. ET.

Sept. 26, 2023, 7:30 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

Direct Air Capture (DAC) Pre-Commercial Technology Prize “Develop” Phase applications are due today by 5 p.m. ET!

  • View the Official Rules before submitting to ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria and understand the requirements of the submission materials. 
  • If you have any questions, contact the prize administrators at .

Don't miss you chance to compete for your share of $4M in cash prizes and technical assistance and elevate the DAC industry. 

Submit your application before 5 p.m. ET. 

Tomorrow: Don’t Miss the DAC Tech Prize Application Deadline!

Sept. 25, 2023, 11:10 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

Is your team prepared for tomorrow’s Direct Air Capture (DAC) Pre-Commercial Technology Prize deadline? Submissions are due tomorrow, Sept. 26, by 5 p.m. ET! 

First, make sure you’re familiar with the Official Rules and what’s expected of each submission. Get ready to tell us about the problem you’d like to address and how your team is uniquely qualified to solve it.

Questions? Stream the informational webinar, visit the HeroX Forum or email the prize team at .  

Good luck! 

DAC Tech Prize Deadline Is In One Week!

Sept. 19, 2023, 11:17 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

If you’re applying for the Direct Air Capture (DAC) Pre-Commercial Technology Prize, make sure your application is submitted by Sept. 26, 5 p.m. ET

In this first phase of the prize, you’ll need to identify the specific critical technology need in the DAC industry your team will be addressing, then describe your solution and why it’s transformational (view the Official Rules for complete submission requirements). 

If you still have questions, we recommend streaming the informational webinar to catch up on any prize details you may have missed. You can also post a question in the HeroX Forum or email the prize team at .  

We look forward to seeing teams’ innovative proposals! 

DAC Tech Prize Informational Webinar Recording Now Available

May 17, 2023, 4:15 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

A recording of the recent Direct Air Capture (DAC) Pre-Commercial Technology Prize informational webinar, covering eligibility, deadlines, and more for the Develop Phase, is available now. If you missed this valuable session, stream it now to catch up on any prize details you may have missed. 

The deadline to submit your entry to the DAC Tech Prize is September 26. DAC technology innovators and entrepreneurs interested in competing for their share of $4 million in cash prizes and technical support—and making a scalable impact with their technology concepts—should start prepping their submissions now. 

All the below submission materials must be uploaded to the DAC Tech Prize HeroX page before the contest closing date: 

  • 90-second video 
  • Cover page content 
  • Core narrative that answers four questions (not to exceed 2,500 words) 
  • One-slide PowerPoint summary (public*) 
  • Letters of commitment or support.

*Note: Portions of the submission package will be made available to the public. See contest rules for complete details or submission requirements. 

Still have questions? Email , and we will be happy to help. You can also use the public HeroX Forum to ask questions and spark discussions with HeroX community members. All questions from this webinar will be answered on the Forum, as well. 


Today! Don't Miss the DAC Technology Prize Information Webinar

May 16, 2023, 8:11 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

It’s not too late to sign up to join us TODAY for the informational webinar for the Direct Air Capture (DAC) Pre-Commercial Technology Prize at 3 p.m. ET. Register now to attend!

The webinar will provide an overview of the DAC Tech Prize “Develop” Phase submission requirements, scoring criteria, eligibility, and more.  

Follow this page to receive updates, watch the recorded webinar, receive answers to questions, and connect with the DAC community. You can also email questions to .

Register now for the DAC Tech Prize Informational Webinar, and join us today, May 16, at 3 p.m. ET.