News Release: I AM Hydro Prize Winners Leverage Advanced Manufacturing Expertise to Bolster Hydropower

Eleven Winners To Share $175,000 Prize Pool

Dec. 18, 2020 | Contact media relations

Eleven winning teams claimed top honors with their concepts to leverage the rapid innovations enabled by advanced manufacturing to solve hydropower’s critical challenges.

Through the Innovations in Advanced Manufacturing for Hydropower (I AM Hydro) Prize, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) sought solutions from a broad swath of competitors, enlisting the ingenuity of advanced manufacturing to reduce construction and maintenance costs and improve the efficiency and energy capture of hydropower. 

The prize, administered by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), challenged multidisciplinary disruptors to dramatically lower costs and/or improve performance of hydropower components by employing next generation manufacturing technologies and materials.

The 11 winners will share a cash prize pot of $175,000.

Multidisciplinary Problem Solving

Part of the American Made Challenges series, the I AM Hydro Prize engaged a national community of problem solvers who may not typically be associated with the hydropower industry.

Though the prize solicited solutions of all shapes and sizes, organizers identified the following potential focus areas for submissions: additive manufacturing; advanced materials; casting, forming, and machining; and joining, coating, and repair.

Competitors were given 120 days to develop their concepts, each of which consisted of the proposed solution, conceptual drawings, comparison to the state-of-the-art technologies, and justification for how the idea could lead to levelized cost of energy reductions.

“The creativity of this diverse group of cross-sectoral competitors was on full display with their inspired submissions,” said Prize Administrator Tessa Greco. “Their concepts represent the best of multidisciplinary problem-solving.”

Awarding Excellence

The prize administrator screened all submissions and, in consultation with DOE, assigned subject-matter-expert reviewers to independently score each one.

Eleven submissions were selected as winners. Cash prizes were awarded in the following categories:

  • Innovator Prizes: The top submissions across all technology areas were awarded $15,000 each.
  • Grand Prize: One Grand Prize winner was awarded $25,000 for the most innovative and impactful submission.

Learn more about the I AM Hydro Prize and NREL’s water power research.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.