American-Made Challenges

Waves to Water Prize

The Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) at the U.S. Department of Energy seeks innovators to design water desalination systems powered by marine renewable energy. The Waves to Water prize is a 5-Stage competition that offers up to $3.3 million in cash prizes, with a goal 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.


graphic image of a wave pouring into a clear drinking glass, with the Waves to Water Prize title over a background image of an ocean wave.

The Waves to Water Prize is a 5-Stage, $3.3M contest to accelerate technology innovation in wave energy powered desalination systems. These technologies hold the potential to deliver clean water to communities for disaster relief purposes, and to remote communities throughout the globe. Over three years, the prize will provide innovators a pathway from initial concept, to technical design, to prototype, to field testing systems that provide clean, abundant drinking water using only waves as a power source. In the final stage of the prize, these systems will be tested in partnership with the Coastal Studies Institute at Jennette’s Pier.

stage 1 marker - a cup of water with a single wave icon
Stage I: CONCEPT - closed
90 DAYS: June 13, 2019 to September 11, 2019
stage 2 marker - a cup of water with a dual wave icon
Stage II: DESIGN - closed
120 DAYS: November 14, 2019 to March 13, 2020
stage 3 marker - a cup of water with a triple wave icon
Stage III: ADAPT closed
180 DAYS: June 8, 2020 to November 30, 2020 5:00 P.M. ET
stage 4 marker - a cup of water with a quadruple wave icon
Stage IV: CREATE now open
180 DAYS: February 2021 to August 2021
stage 5 marker - a cup of water with a quintuple wave icon
Stage V: DRINK
180 DAYS: September 2021 to April 2022 (anticipated)

The American-Made Challenges Prize platform, administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, brings together America’s world-class research base with its unparalleled entrepreneurial support system – consisting of pioneering university teams, dozens of energy incubators, and 16 national laboratories – to create a sweeping portfolio of innovations primed for private investment and commercial scale-up.


Important Dates


  • CONCEPT Stage: June 13, 2019 – September 11, 2019
  • CONCEPT Stage Winners Announcement: November 14, 2019
  • DESIGN Stage: November 14, 2019 – March 13, 2020
  • DESIGN Stage Winners Announcement: June 8, 2020
  • ADAPT Stage: June 8, 2020 – November 30, 2020
  • CREATE Stage: February 2021 – August 2021
  • DRINK Stage: September 2021 – Spring 2022
  • Grand Prize Winner Announcement: Spring 2022

All dates are subject to change including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements. Final dates for the opening of the CREATE and DRINK Stages will be posted here and on the HeroX site.

Sign up for updates on our HeroX challenge page.


Who can participate?


Entrepreneurs, technologists, hardware developers, and investors are all welcome and encouraged to join the American Made Challenge Network and be part of the ground-breaking change that will accelerate innovation in desalination and marine renewable energy technologies.


See how your involvement might support innovation

Solutions that help shape the future

Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

Are you a thinker, entrepreneur, facility or potential partner? Anyone with an innovative idea can help promote transformation by participating in the American-Made Challenges. Reach out to the organizers to find out how you can get involved.


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