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Desalination Dreams: Meet the Entrepreneurial Waves to Water CONCEPT Stage Winners

April 16, 2020

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Water is the driving force of all nature.” This Earth Day, we recognize five teams of entrepreneurs who are integrating marine energy and desalination to provide clean water.

In June 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) launched the Waves to Water Prize. This four-stage competition offers competitors up to $2.5 million in cash prizes to demonstrate small, modular, cost-competitive desalination systems that use the power of ocean waves to provide clean drinking water for disaster recovery and for remote and coastal communities.

In November 2019, DOE announced 20 winners of the CONCEPT stage of the prize, awarding each team $10,000 to help them prepare for the next contest, which has just concluded: DESIGN.

Photo of ocean waves crashing on the beach.
Enterprising entrepreneurs take on the desalination challenge and move into the DESIGN stage of the Waves to Water Prize.

Enterprising Entrepreneurs

CONCEPT Stage winning teams ran the gamut from industry to academia to entrepreneurs, with each type of team bringing a fresh perspective and diverse experience to the table.

As reviewers determine the winners of the DESIGN stage, let's learn a bit more about the competing entrepreneurial innovators and how they plan to make their desalination dreams a reality.

  • Amr Yousef's Team, PASAD – Clean Water for All! is developing an innovative wave energy harvesting system that produces potable water in emergency response situations. The Point Absorber Surface Attenuator Desalination (PASAD) System can be assembled and deployed in 36 hours, the components fit inside a standard shipment container, and specialized tools are not required for assembly.
  • Team Maiden Wave Energy's Push Button Deployable water-powered filtration ocean energy system is shipped to the beach in a container. The system features a telescoping arm that uses a point absorber energy capture device to purify saltwater into clean, drinkable water.
  • Surge Seeker, developed by Nick Wynn's Team, is a wave pump—powered by ocean surge—that feeds an onboard, off-the-shelf desalination system. The device is unique in that it can move sideways to capture wave surge motion. The unit is transportable, as the buoy can fit inside a 4-foot container.
  • Water Duck, from Nick Wynn's Team, consists of a wave-driven pump with an onboard reverse osmosis desalination unit. Water Duck rocks back and forth in the waves and is tethered with a slack mooring to prevent it from drifting away.
  • SurfWEC, from the Michael Raftery Team, is a variable-depth platform that consists of a watertight pressure housing and a buoy. It operates at depth in storms, providing wave energy conversion efficiency and safety. The SurfWEC is placed out to sea 500 meters past the shoreline or to a depth of 10 meters (30 feet) and powers a desalination station onshore.

Winners of the DESIGN stage will be announced soon. Learn more about the prize and keep up with the latest from these trailblazing entrepreneurs.