The U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office challenges innovators to develop wave powered desalination systems for the Waves to Water Prize. The Waves to Water Prize is a 5-Stage, $3.3M contest designed to accelerate the development of small, modular, wave-powered desalination systems capable of providing potable drinking water in disaster relief scenarios and remote coastal locations.
The prize supports the integration of existing and novel wave energy generation technologies with water technologies that can deliver effective, consistent, durable and low-maintenance water delivery systems. The prize seeks to identify the ideal scale of wave energy innovation paired with water technologies that can serve niche markets such as disaster response, and advance the state of both wave energy devices and desalination technologies that could provide value in other markets as the technologies mature.
The prize has five stages, aimed to support concepts through demonstration, with the final stage culminating in an open water testing competition at Jennette’s Pier, where the systems will produce clean water using the power of waves.
$3.3 MILLION IN CASH PRIZES
The five stages of this prize will distribute a total of $3.3 million, and will provide access to testing and demonstrating solutions out in the ocean in the final DRINK Stage.
The purpose of this prize is to incentivize the creation of wave powered desalination systems that meet the following goals:
Flexibility in Varied Wave Conditions: Competitors must develop systems that can survive harsh wave conditions and operate under different wave conditions and different sites without major tuning to ensure operation at a wide variety of locations. All solutions that make it to the DRINK Stage will be evaluated at an open-water test at Jennette’s Pier, which experiences average- to low-energetic wave resources.
Easily Deployed: Systems must be able to be deployed in less than 48 hours, addressing the ability to deploy quickly and easily in a disaster response scenario where there is large uncertainty around site conditions.
Ship in a Standard Container: Technologies must fit into a predefined container. The internal dimensions of the container are approximately 41 x 44 x 35 inches—to standardize the shipping constraints that face many disaster response and recovery scenarios.
Operate without Environmental Degradation: Brine discharge, or other salt concentration issues from the process of desalinating water will need to be managed without creating environmental issues.
Deliver Minimum Water Quality: TThe maximum total dissolved solids (TDS) quantity for this competition is 1,000 mg/L.
For more information on the prize and the rules, please review the official rules for the application process and instructions for competing.
Please review the official rules for the 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 .
We’re also looking for ideas on how to best structure this contest to attract ground-breaking solutions that will support the marine energy and desalination industries. If you’re not interested in competing but want to help develop and judge the prize, .
Please be advised that the official Waves to Water Rules Document has been modified to include test site specifications for the upcoming DRINK Stage and to clarify the number of entries teams can submit.
Join the Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office on March 1, from 3:30–5:00 p.m. ET, for the semiannual stakeholder webinar, where staff will discuss some of the most pressing changes affecting water power R&D in 2021. Led by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power and WPTO Director Alejandro Moreno, the webinar will feature program managers and technical leads from across WPTO. Program representatives will provide an update on the administration transition and FY21 budget, highlight recent announcements and publications, share project updates including prize milestones and awards, and discuss upcoming priorities. The presentation will close with Q&A.
This webinar is one of WPTO’s many efforts to improve transparency and engagement with stakeholders in the hydropower and marine energy industries. Register for the webinar and email questions ahead of time .
We wanted to pass on an opportunity to share your testing needs, regardless of your engagement in the CREATE Stage.
The development of the PacWave open ocean wave energy test facility is proceeding rapidly and the South test site is scheduled to be operational in the Spring of 2023.
To help prepare for the first round of testing and demonstration projects, the PacWave and PMEC teams have released an RFI to solicit information from the wave energy converter R&D community, the developers of related blue economy technologies, and other stakeholders. The information received will help the PacWave team understand how the facility can most effectively be used to meet the testing needs of the WEC community and to ensure testing opportunities are aligned with industry and stakeholder needs. We strongly encourage all wave energy converter technology stakeholders to respond to the RFI.
As we approach the ADAPT Stage deadline, we wanted to share an opportunity to potentially help improve and accelerate the viability of your wave energy powered desalination devices in the CREATE Stage. WPTO is sponsoring the Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research (TEAMER™) program, directed by the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust. This program, currently accepting applications through December 18, supports developers seeking access to the nation’s best wave energy facilities and expertise.
Facility access windows are between April and November of 2021, aligning well with the development of your prototype for the CREATE Stage. Apply today: https://teamer-us.org/application/.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions.
We are looking forward to seeing your submissions come in soon!
Please be advised that the official Waves to Water Rules Document has been modified to update the anchor specifications with an increased weight and pull limit. Please review these changes, now available in the rules document.
The Waves to Water Prize team has also compiled all the anchoring questions we’ve received to date and added them to this document to summarize the feedback.
If there are still any outstanding questions on the ADAPT Stage rules, please reach out to us on the forum.
The Prize competition is open only to: (a) citizens or permanent residents of the United States; and (b) private or non-federal public entities, such as townships, tribes, corporations, or other organizations that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States. Individuals can compete alone or as a member of a group.
A representative of a private entity can register the entity to compete. So long as an entity is legally formed under the laws of a State or the laws of the United States, individuals working under that entity may participate regardless of immigration status.
DOE employees, employees of sponsoring organizations, members of their immediate families (spouses, children, siblings, parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in this Prize. Federal entities and federal employees, acting within the scope of their employment, are also not eligible to participate in any portion of this Prize. DOE National Laboratory employees cannot participate in any Stage of the prize.
Any marine energy technology is eligible to compete. However, at the final stage of the prize, competitors will be tested at a site where it is anticipated that tidal or current resources will be limited, and should be essentially considered as insignificant. The anticipated site conditions can be found in the Rules Document Appendix 2: “Site Testing Conditions - All solutions competing in the DRINK Stage will be evaluated at an open-water test site with the following anticipated site characteristics:
This is an estimated range of conditions expected for the testing site. It is anticipated that the site will be representative of average to low-energetic wave resources, and at the bottom end of the ranges provided. Once a final test site has been selected, full technical details will be provided.”
In the final grand prize, all water produced by systems must meet the Minimum Water Quality level in order to be eligible for any prizes, as stated in the Rules Document Section 1.1 Technology Development Goals. But per the Rules document Appendix 2, “[u]ltimately the prize seeks to produce drinking water at the final DRINK Stage of the competition that meets both EPA’s Secondary Standards and mandatory limits of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations.” It is anticipated that competitors will receive higher scores for meeting these standards.
The desalinated water will be required to be delivered to shore at the end of the demonstration period during the Drink phase of the contest. We anticipate that the administration team will provide a standard water container for each team. More guidance on water delivery will be provided closer to the competition date.
We have intentionally put in competing metrics so that teams must weigh design challenges. However, once all thresholds have been met, it is anticipated that water production will be most heavily weighted. Additional information on metrics will be provided at a later date.
All supplies will need to fit into the standard container, including the wave energy device. The Prize Administration team does anticipate having some standard equipment and tools for installation and maintenance at the final competition stage. More information on equipment that will be available onsite will be published at a later date.