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American-Made Challenges

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Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize

Develop solutions that de-risk and increase market viability for direct lithium extraction from geothermal brines.

This challenge is closed

stage:
Phase 3: Fabricate & Test Opens
prize:
$4 Million Total Prize Pool

This challenge is closed

Overview

Challenge Overview

The American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize is designed to find solutions that de-risk and increase market viability for direct lithium extraction (DLE) from geothermal brines. Advancement of DLE technologies allow for improved methods that lower costs, lessen environmental impact, and further the mission to turn the threat of climate change into an opportunity to revitalize the U.S. energy and manufacturing sectors. 

 

Lithium is a major component of high-charge-density batteries for electric vehicles and grid-scale electricity storage. It is expected that global demand for lithium will increase by 500% by 2050 due to widespread adoption of electric vehicles and grid-scale battery storage, making lithium supplies a crucial element in the clean energy supply chain. 

 

The current U.S. lithium stock is almost entirely imported, with only 1% of U.S. lithium supply being sourced domestically. Furthermore, traditional sources of lithium are environmentally destructive. This combination of rapidly expanding global demand and lack of a safe, domestic supply has created an urgency to develop a safe, domestic, cost-competitive source of lithium to ensure American leadership in the transition to a carbon-free economy and a robust domestic supply chain.

 

Prize Structure

The Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize consists of three phases that will fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and test disruptive solutions to improve the profitability of DLE from geothermal brines. Each stage will include a contest period when participants work to rapidly advance their solutions. 

 

 

Guidelines

Challenge Guidelines

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

If you want to receive updates on the prize, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform. All questions can be sent directly to GeoLithiumExtraction@nrel.gov.

Timeline

Challenge Timeline

start
March 31, 2021, 10:16 a.m. PDT
Date Launched
March 31, 2021, 10:18 a.m. PDT
Enter
Phase 1: Idea & Concept Submission opens
April 12, 2021, 10 a.m. PDT
Phase 1 Informational Webinar
Sept. 2, 2021, 2 p.m. PDT
Submission Deadline
Phase 1 Submission Deadline
Nov. 4, 2021, 9 a.m. PDT
Phase 1 Semifinalists Announced
Nov. 8, 2021, 2 p.m. PST
Enter
Phase 2: Open for submissions
March 25, 2022, 2 p.m. PDT
Innovation Pitch Decks Due
The presentation slides must be submitted using the provided template found on HeroX, and saved
in a Microsoft PowerPoint format.
March 28, 2022, 11 a.m. PDT
Phase 2 Virtual IAP Pitch Event - Day 1
March 31, 2022, noon PDT
Phase 2 Virtual IAP Pitch Event - Day 2
April 29, 2022, 3 p.m. PDT
Submission Deadline
Phase 2: Design & Invent Submission Deadline
5 p.m. ET
July 13, 2022, 2 p.m. PDT
Phase 2: Design & Invent Finalists Announced
July 13, 2022, 3 p.m. PDT
Phase 3: Fabricate & Test Opens
Anticipated Phase 3: Fabricate & Test Submission Opens
Sept. 28, 2022, 8:20 a.m. PDT
You are here
July 3, 2023, 2 p.m. PDT
Phase 3: Fabricate & Test Deadline
Anticipated Phase 3: Fabricate & Test Submission Deadline
5 p.m. ET
finish
Dec. 1, 2023, 11 a.m. PST
Anticipated Phase 3: Fabricate & Test Winners Announced
Updates16

Challenge Updates

Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Finalists Announced!

July 13, 2022, 11:50 a.m. PDT by NREL

Congratulations to the following five teams, each taking home $280,000 and earning the opportunity to compete in the final phase of the competition. All Phase 2 participants will receive reviewers’ comments within the next few weeks. For those teams selected to move on to Phase 3, please check your email for your next steps and stay tuned to register for the Phase 3 Rules Webinar.

Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Finalists 

  • George Washington University – Team Ellexco: “Chemical-Free Extraction of Lithium from Brines” 
  • Rice University – Team LiSED: “Lithium Selective ElectroDialysis”
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – Team SelectPureLi: “A Redox Membrane for LiOH Extraction” 
  • University of Utah – Team University of Utah:  “Engineered Lithium Ion-Sieve Technology”
  • University of Virginia – Team TELEPORT:  “Targeted Extraction of Lithium with Electroactive Particles for Recovery Technology”


Phase 2 Deadline Approaching!

April 27, 2022, 2:05 p.m. PDT by NREL

Hello Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Semifinalists,

A reminder that your Phase 2 submission is due this Friday, April 29 by 5 p.m. ET. Please use the Phase 2 Submission Template and make sure your technical narrative addresses: 

  • How has your team advanced a solution to the identified problem?
  • What progress have you made?
  • How do you plan to fabricate and test your solution?

If you experience technical difficulty uploading your submission, please reach out to the prize administrators as soon as possible at . We will be closely monitoring the inbox all week to help with submission uploads. However, we do recommend submitting well before the 5 p.m. ET deadline on Friday.

Want a refresher on questions and comments from the IAP session? Check out the recordings from IAP Pitch Session #1 and IAP Pitch Session #2 on YouTube. 

 


Now Available: Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Phase 2 Rules

Nov. 24, 2021, 9:31 a.m. PST by NREL

Hello Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Competitors!

Rules for Phase 2 of the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize have been released. Please review the updated Official Prize Rules Document, which is available on the resources page and on the American Made Challenges website

Stay tuned for an upcoming webinar to further discuss Phase 2 rules and upcoming prize events. If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please reach out to us on the forum. 

Thank you!


Congratulations to the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Semifinalists!

Nov. 4, 2021, 9:04 a.m. PDT by NREL

The 15 teams listed below are moving on to Phase 2, each taking home $40,000 in cash prizes, along with a chance to win part of the $1.4 million Phase 2 prize pool. 

All Phase 1 participants will receive judges’ comments within the next two weeks. For those teams selected to move on to Phase 2, please check your email for your next steps and stay tuned to register for the Phase 2 Rules Webinar.

Congratulations to the following teams: 


Last Chance to Submit Ideas for Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Phase 1

Sept. 2, 2021, 6:45 a.m. PDT by NREL

Today is your last chance to submit your impactful solution to Phase 1 of the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize! Submissions are due on HeroX by 5 p.m. ET. 

Do you have a complete submission package prepared? Here’s what you’ll need to submit: 

  • Cover page 
  • Summary slide 
  • 90-second video 
  • Technical narrative 
  • IAP assistance request
  • Optional: Letters of commitment or support 

If you experience technical difficulty uploading your submission, please reach out to the prize administrators as soon as possible at GeoLithiumExtraction@nrel.gov. We will be closely monitoring the inbox all day to help with submission uploads. However, we do recommend submitting well before the 5 p.m. ET deadline.

Interested in learning more about the prize? Check out the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize featured in Battery Power Magazine.

We can’t wait to see your exciting Phase 1 solutions—good luck!


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