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Transforming Saltwater into Prize Winnings: Waves to Water Industry Teams Win Big in DESIGN Stage

September 9, 2020

Has the hot summer sun left you feeling thirsty? These teams of wave-powered desalination wizards have you covered.

June’s arrival brought both warm days and the announcement of the winners of the DESIGN Stage, the second stage of the Waves to Water Prize. The ask? Develop innovative wave-powered systems that can transform saltwater into drinking water. The incentive? $3.3 million in prizes.

Bubbles in green-blue ocean water, light shining through them from behind.
Five Waves to Water DESIGN Stage industry winners rose to the top. Learn more about their winning proposals. Image credit: Pexels

The competition was tough: Out of an impressive pool of challengers, 17 winners emerged, five of which hailed from the marine energy industry.

Part of the American-Made Challenges series, the Waves to Water Prize is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The second stage of five, the DESIGN Stage compelled competitors to develop a technical plan and a supporting analysis of their wave-powered desalination systems. DESIGN Stage winners were awarded a shared prize pot of $800,000.

Meet the Private Sector Prizewinners

Let’s check in with the industry’s best and learn a bit more about their winning proposals:

  • Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Team Black & Veatch’s BV SurfBuoy consists of a sled-mounted inflatable point absorber wave device containing a reverse osmosis unit. It can be manually deployed near the shore or further out at sea.
  • Team Oneka’s Compact Wave-Powered Watermaker has been six years in the making. A wave point absorber, the system can be inflated, rolled out into the ocean, and attached to an anchor to transform waves to water mechanically. The device aims to provide ten cubic meters of drinking water per day.
  • Wave2O 1.5m3/d HDPE SurgeWEC from Team Resolute Marine harnesses wave power with a pair of novel, custom-developed, high-pressure pumps to deliver pressurized, filtered seawater to the desalination plant using a hydraulic motor-generator to supply electrical power for auxiliary devices.
  • The MZSP Freshwater Production System from MarkZero Prototypes LLC is an easily deployable wave attenuator containing an onboard reverse osmosis filtration system.
  • The ROOWaC Desalinator from Team Wells Engineering employs their water resource expertise in the design of a reverse osmosis desalinator powered by an oscillating water column wave energy converter.

ADAPTing to their Surroundings

With the conclusion of the DESIGN Stage, competitors will focus on a specific pier location—Jennette’s Pier in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to be exact.

As part of the ADAPT Stage of the competition, participants will be challenged to design flexible systems to meet the conditions at Jennette’s Pier. The stage is open to any eligible entries, whether or not they participated in the previous CONCEPT or DESIGN Stages.

As part of ADAPT, these water power aces will have 180 days to prep to present their best solutions for innovation of wave-powered desalination.

Up to 10 winners will be awarded from a prize pool of up to $800,000. 

Are you up for the challenge? Learn more about the Waves to Water Prize and how you can participate yourself or support the work of these daring competitors.