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 2 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. 


60 Gigawatts by 2050: 

The Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) is focused on advancing EGS technology because it has the potential to enable the development 60 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—$2.55 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

Geothermal Seismic 101

Jan. 26, 2023, 10:37 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Please join Michelle Robertson and Ernie Majer with Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory for Geothermal Seismic 101 on February 2ndat 1pm ET.  This webinar will be giving an overview of why we need this innovation in the geothermal sector. 

During this webinar they will review why the industry needs: 

  •  high-sensitivity low-noise wide-bandwidth sensors,
  • the sensors at depth / 225C,
  • sensors to last for at least six months without degrading. 

They will also review: 

  • how the industry normally record the signal coming from a sensor,
  • what a seismic array looks like in the field and how the industry streams the data to a central website,
  • what the industry does with the waveform data, 
  • what answers the industry is ultimately looking for from the data at depth that we’re not getting now with the low-temperature shallow tools. 

Please use this link for logging in the day of the webinar.  Thank you!


Jan. 3, 2023, 7:46 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Geophone Prize semifinalists that competed in Phase 1, as well as teams who are interested in applying for Phase 2, can now view the Phase 2 Informational Webinar on the HeroX “Resources” tab. For non-semifinalists, you are welcome to fast-forward to 8:05 in the recording (or advance to slide 7) to review what you will need to submit for Phase 2 of the Geothermal Geophone Prize. Questions can be emailed to .  Thank you!

Geothermal Geophone Prize Semifinalists Announced!

Dec. 2, 2022, 10:09 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Congratulations to the 10 Geophone Prize semifinalist teams, each receiving a $75,000 cash prize plus $75,000 in vouchers to use with an industry expert or national laboratory to advance their solution during Phase 2. All Phase 1 participants will receive reviewers’ comments within the next few weeks. For those teams selected to move on to Phase 2, check your email for your next steps and please register for the Phase 2 Informational Webinar.


Voucher Digest & Capabilities Menu Update

Nov. 2, 2022, 10:29 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

To help teams prepare for the next phase of the prize, we have updated the Voucher Digest and Capabilities Menu on the HeroX resources tab. Please feel free to review this information to learn more about the voucher process. Also please keep an eye out for phase 1 winners announcement at the beginning of December. Thank you! 

Phase 1 Deadline, Thursday, Sep 29 at 5pm ET

Sept. 26, 2022, 8:20 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

All Phase 1 submissions are due this Thursday at 5 p.m. ET. Please be sure to upload your completed submission well before the deadline to avoid potential delays due to technical difficulties. Submission will not be accepted after 5 p.m. ET.

Do not hesitate to reach out with questions at We look forward to seeing your submissions.

Thank you!