American-Made Challenges

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Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize

This is designed to find solutions that de-risk and increase market viability for direct lithium extraction (DLE) from geothermal brines.
stage:
Phase 1 Informational Webinar
prize:
$4 Million Total Prize Pool
Overview

Challenge Overview

The American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize seeks to drive forward the development of economic DLE from geothermal brines found at the Salton Sea by partnering novel geothermal and non-geothermal expertise with experienced DLE industry experts to overcome challenges of geothermal lithium extraction by:

  • Developing electrochemical/electrolysis processes for the direct conversion of a lithium-bearing geothermal brine to a lithium hydroxide product without the intermediate creation of lithium carbonate.
  • Developing new absorbents, precipitants, catalysts, or new processing conditions that can efficiently and selectively extract lithium directly from geothermal brines.
  • Advancements that improve the yield and achievable product purity.
  • Advancements that reduce energy and water consumption rates.
  • Advancements that minimize and/or monetize waste products.

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
Updates 5

Challenge Updates

See the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize IAP Technical Panel

May 3, 2021, 11:51 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

The Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize IAP Technical Panel is now available to stream on YouTube. 

Alex Prisjatschew of the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office, hosts members of the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Industry Advisory Panel (IAP) for indispensable insight surrounding domestic lithium extraction.

View the webinar on YouTube now for real-world technical expertise including: 

  • Chemistry: What's in a Brine? How to Archive Yield and Product Purity, with Darrell Gallup
  • Extraction Technologies, with Mike O'Sullivan
  • State of the Art: Direct Lithium Extraction, with Stephen Harrison
  • Environmental Impact: Turning Waste into Profit, with Jason Czapla
  • Environmental Impact: Salton Sea, with Katharina Gerber

The IAP is a key piece of the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize, providing competitors with real-world research and development problems, mentorship, technical insight, marketing expertise, product validation, and other support. Watch the webinar now to learn how IAP members can support you throughout the challenge. 


Now Available: Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Industry Advisory Panel Overview

April 28, 2021, 9:32 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

The Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Industry Advisory Panel (IAP) Overview webinar is now available to stream. 

The IAP is a key piece of the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize, providing competitors with real-world research and development problems, mentorship, technical insight, marketing expertise, product validation, and other support.

Alex Prisjatschew, hydrothermal resources engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy, hosts this virtual panel that brings together decades of industry experience to discuss the overall geothermal industry, key issues surrounding geothermal brines in the Salton Sea, and what is needed to make major strides in sourcing domestic geothermal lithium. 

IAP members joining Alex for this overview webinar include: 

  • Derek Benson, chief operating officer at EnergySource Minerals
  • Dr. Dan Hoyer, senior consultant at Veizades and Associates, Inc.
  • Jonathan Weisgall, vice president of government relations at Berkshire Hathaway Energy

View the webinar on YouTube now for valuable insight that can help move your solution closer to the $600,000 Phase 1 prize pool. A follow-up IAP webinar recording will be available soon.


Watch the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Informational Webinar Recording Now

April 14, 2021, 1:37 p.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Did you miss the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Informational Webinar on April 12? Don’t worry—you can now stream the webinar recording to learn more about the prize and how you can compete.

Remember, Phase 1: Idea & Concept, closes on July 2 at 5 p.m. ET. We encourage you to review the rules and submit questions to the HeroX forum or


Reminder: Join the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Informational Webinar Today!

April 12, 2021, 6 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Join the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for an informational webinar on the newly announced American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize

The 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 cost, lessen environmental impact and further the mission to turn the threat of climate change into an opportunity to revitalize the U.S. energy and critical materials supply chain. Participants compete in three escalating challenges that fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and test disruptive solutions for an opportunity to win a portion of the $4 million cash prize pool. 

The informational webinar is today (4/12) at 1 p.m. ET. This is your opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how your technical solutions can increase the domestic supply of lithium.

Interested in competing or learning more? It's not too late to register now for the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Informational Webinar!


You’re Invited! Join the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Informational Webinar on April 12

April 8, 2021, 3:25 p.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Join the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for an informational webinar on the newly announced American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize

The 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 cost, lessen environmental impact and further the mission to turn the threat of climate change into an opportunity to revitalize the U.S. energy and critical materials supply chain. Participants compete in three escalating challenges that fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and test disruptive solutions for an opportunity to win a portion of the $4 million cash prize pool. 

The informational webinar is on Monday, April 12, at 1 p.m. ET. This is your opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how your technical solutions can increase the domestic supply of lithium.

Interested in competing or learning more? Register now for the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Informational Webinar!


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