American-Made Challenges


Geothermal Geophone Prize

The Geophone Prize will catalyze the development of high temperature, downhole seismic monitoring for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS)
Geophone Prize Phase 3: Informational Webinar


The Geothermal Geophone Prize

Spearheaded by the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, and in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the Geophone Prize spurs creativity and addresses the challenges of operating seismic sensors in geothermal environments. 

The American-Made High Temperature Geothermal Geophone Prize is designed to catalyze the development of high temperature, downhole capable seismic monitoring for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) in the American instrumentation community. This is accomplished through a series of prize competitions and the development of a diverse and powerful support network that leverages national laboratories, energy incubators, and other resources from across the United States. 


90 Gigawatts by 2050: 

The Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) is focused on advancing EGS technology because it has the potential to enable the development of 90 gigawatts of projected geothermal electricity capacity by 2050 (as highlighted in the GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet report.)  Achieving this level of deployment require technical innovations in EGS, however. One of the critical areas centers around advances in subsurface sensing, which requires the expertise of the high temperature electronics (HTE) community. Growth in HTE applications across multiple sectors has been significant in the last decade and is ripe for adaptation to the seismic sensor technology space.


Earn Cash Prizes for Development of Successful Geophone:

The Geophone Prize comprises three progressive competitions that catalyze innovation in the U.S. geothermal industry by harnessing the advances HTE can provide in tool design and functionality. This new initiative not only provides cash prizes, but also engages America’s incubators, investors, universities, 17 national laboratories, and others to help participants achieve their goals.

Figure 1. The Geothermal Geophone Prize offers three escalating rounds and substantial cash and other benefits to spark innovation in high temperature seismic sensors.


Competitors in the Phase 1: Concept! , Phase 2: Design!, and Phase 3: Build! Contests participate in three escalating challenges. The contests provide a total of $3.65 million in incentives—$2.7 million in cash prizes, $1.1 million in vouchers. Winning Phase 2: Design! is required to compete in Phase 3: Build!; however, new teams may join during Phase 2: Design! without competing in  Phase 1: Concept!. 



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

If you want to subscribe to updates on the prize or have any questions, you may use the contact feature on the HeroX platform, or message us directly.


Challenge Updates

Five Finalists Advance in the Geothermal Geophone Prize!

March 26, 2024, 11:58 a.m. PDT by NREL

Congratulations to the five Geophone Prize finalist teams, each winning $250,000 in cash prizes and $100,000 in vouchers to use with an industry expert or national laboratory to advance their seismometer prototypes. For each team chosen to advance to the final phase, please check your email for next steps and register for the Phase 3 Informational Webinar. 

Congratulations to the following finalists who are fast-tracking innovative geophone solutions!

DEADLINE ALERT! Geophone Prize Phase 2 Applications Due Thursday!

Jan. 30, 2024, 5:09 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Complete your submission package on HeroX before 5 p.m. ET this Thursday, February 1.

This is the second contest of the Geothermal Geophone Prize’s three-contest series and offers a total of $1.25 million in cash prizes, as well as $500,000 in vouchers. Phase 1 winners and new competitors will advance their seismic sensor concepts and expand their partnerships to build functional prototypes.

If you have questions, please reach out to the prize administrators: and give yourself some extra time before 5 p.m. to hit submit!

Please submit applications here.

Deadline Alert: Phase 2 Submissions Due in Less Than Two Weeks!

Jan. 19, 2024, 9:25 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

The Geothermal Geophone Prize Phase 2 applications are due Thursday, Feb. 1 by 5 p.m. ET. Don’t miss your chance to win up to $350,000 in incentives and advance your seismic sensor concept by demonstrating your design’s promise. 

A few reminders: 

  • Review the Official Rules
  • Ensure you have all required items in your submission package: 
  • Video 
  • Cover Page 
  • Summary Slide 
  • Voucher Work Slide 
  • Technical Narrative 
  • Letters of Commitment or Support (Optional)  
  • If you have any questions, please contact the prize administrators:

We can’t wait to review your submissions.

Submit your application before 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, Feb. 1

Deadline Extended for Phase 2 Submissions

Nov. 13, 2023, 8:10 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

The deadline for Geothermal Geophone Prize phase 2 submissions has been extended until Feb. 1, 2024. The updated rules that reflect this extension can be found on the resources tab within the prize’s HeroX page. Please reach out to with any questions.


Voucher Capabilities Menu for Phase 2

Sept. 28, 2023, 9:20 a.m. PDT by National Renewable Energy Laboratory

We have uploaded the Phase 2: Make! Voucher Capabilities Menu to the HeroX resources tab.

This document includes national laboratory voucher capabilities for the Geothermal Geophone Prize. Vouchers can be redeemed, should you win Phase 2. 

Please note that, as a competitor, you will need to submit a Voucher Slide with your Phase 2 submission, which outlines where you would intend to redeem your voucher and what you would intend to do with it (see page 23 of the Official Rules for more information).

Please also review the Voucher Guidelines to learn more about the voucher process.