DOE's AlgaePrize Student Competition Returns To Inspire Next-Generation Bioeconomy Professionals

Student Teams Gain Valuable Experience With Innovative Algal Commercialization Technologies While Competing To Earn Prize Money

Oct. 24, 2023 | By Justin Rickard | Contact media relations

After a successful inaugural competition beginning in 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) AlgaePrize 2023–2025 competition is back to inspire students to explore novel solutions that will shape the global future of algae.

Logo illustration of seaweed and algae next to the words U.S. Department of Energy Algae Prize: NextGen Algal Innovators

AlgaePrize is part of the American-Made Challenges, a series of prize competitions designed to incentivize and reenergize American innovation in the energy marketplace. The AlgaePrize is sponsored by the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and supported by The Algae Foundation and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

High school, community college, undergraduate, and graduate-level student teams will develop algae-based solutions that impact the production of biofuels, foods, feeds, ecological services, and industrial compounds. Teams will focus on three research areas of interest:

  • Production, including cultivar enhancement, aquaculture engineering, and husbandry and productivity
  • Downstream processing, including harvesting, dewatering, and preprocessing and development of biorefinery applications
  • Novel products, analytical tools, or ecosystem services, including new product development, remote sensing and modeling, and ecosystem services.

Throughout the competition, student teams will engage and network with industry professionals, DOE national laboratory researchers, and academics. Relationships forged during the competition will aid the students’ transition to the algal-based bioeconomy through employment or entrepreneurial endeavors upon graduation.

"The first AlgaePrize competition was an incredible experience for the student teams, and NREL was the perfect location to host the final presentations of this competition. The caliber of the research proposed was impressive and extremely creative. All the students demonstrated a fundamental grasp of the challenges facing the nascent algae industry," said Lieve Laurens, senior researcher and lead of NREL's algae platform. "I know each of us here on the NREL algae research team are eager to once again support this competition and be inspired by the next generation of bioeconomy professionals."

Competition finalist teams will present their research to a panel of judges during the AlgaePrize Weekend, an event held at NREL's campus in Golden, Colorado, April 11–13, 2025. Winning teams will be offered the opportunity to share their research and network with participants at a national algal-based conference or symposium in the fall of 2025.

Cindy Gerk, the NREL-based AlgaePrize contact, is excited that the AlgaePrize Competition Event will be held at NREL once again.

"The AlgaePrize is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn the nuances of the algae industry," Gerk said. "We look forward to hosting the student teams at NREL, and we are eager to see their impressive competition projects."

The next AlgaePrize competition kicked off Sept. 29, 2023. The deadline to register a team is Nov. 1, 2023. Learn how to participate in the AlgaePrize, or visit BETO's AlgaePrize website for information. Register for an informational webinar taking place on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, from 3 to 4 p.m. ET.

Tags: Bioenergy