Skip to main content

News Release: From Saltwater to Drinking Water: NREL Announces 10 Winners of the Waves to Water Prize ADAPT Stage; Launch of CREATE Stage

Feb. 9, 2021

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) revealed 10 winners of the third stage of the Waves to Water Prize. These teams will walk away with a cash prize and an invitation to advance to the next stage of the prize, CREATE, where they will bring these ideas to life with proofs of concepts and prototyping of their novel wave-energy-powered desalination systems.

Supported by DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office, the five-stage, $3.3-million contest aims to accelerate innovation in small, modular, wave-powered desalination systems capable of producing clean water in disaster recovery scenarios, as well as water-scarce coastal and island locations.

Over three years, the Waves to Water Prize provides innovators a pathway from initial concept to field-testing their wave-energy-powered desalination devices. The prize will culminate in an open-water test in April 2022, when competitors will launch and test their devices at Jennette’s Pier, in partnership with the Coastal Studies Institute.

ADAPTing to Their Surroundings

Competitors in the ADAPT Stage had 180 days to design flexible systems to meet the site conditions at Jennette’s Pier.

Assessing the submissions on the feasibility and risks of the technologies, the suitability for Jennette’s Pier, and important technological advancements, reviewers evaluated the engineering design of the proposed devices and prototyping and validation work done to date. The winning teams were each awarded a cash prize of $80,000 and will compete in the fourth stage of the prize, CREATE:

  • Ballast, Buoys, and Borrowing from Archimedes, Project 816 Team
  • CalWave HydroNode, Team CalWave Power Technologies Inc.
  • Canvasback Desalination System, Canvasback Desalination System Team
  • DUO Wave-Powered Desalination System, Sea Potential Team
  • MZSP Freshwater Production System, Team MarkZero Prototypes
  • OCEAN WATERS, Team Ocean Waters
  • Oneka Snowflake, the Wave-Powered Watermaker, Team Oneka
  • WATER BROS Desalination, Team WATER BROS
  • Water Duck, Surge Seeker & Water Duck Team
  • WEC Powered Desalination System, Team ReVision

Ready, Set, CREATE

Competitors in the CREATE Stage will have 180 days to build a functional prototype or proof of concept of their system.

“Over the last year and a half, we have seen a range of solutions proposed under this prize. These winners represent some true technological advancements. Each applied rigorous modeling to underpin their claims, and so we are excited to see what comes as a result of building these systems in the CREATE Stage,” said Scott Jenne, NREL’s principal investigator for the Waves to Water Prize. 

During the CREATE Stage, participants will begin to test and build their devices, including prototyping and de-risking the key elements of their systems, and develop a plan to finalize and deliver their technologies for the fifth and final stage of the prize, DRINK. In the CREATE Stage, up to 10 winners will share a $500,000 prize pool, taking home up to $150,000 each.

Learn more about the Waves to Water Prize and follow the competitors’ progress as they near the grand finale.

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.