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Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) selected 11 winning teams for their concepts to leverage the rapid innovations enabled by advanced manufacturing to solve hydropower’s critical challenges. Through the Innovations in Advanced Manufacturing for Hydropower (I AM Hydro) Prize, WPTO sought solutions, using advanced manufacturing technologies and materials, to reduce construction and maintenance costs and improve the efficiency and energy capture of hydropower. 

“It is critical to continue the progress of hydropower technology innovation to maintain its performance and cost-competitiveness,” said Daniel R Simmons, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The I AM Hydro innovators are proposing creative solutions to move hydropower forward by leveraging new manufacturing approaches and materials to decrease the costs and maintain the efficiency of hydropower.”

The prize engaged a national community of problem solvers who may not typically be associated with the hydropower industry. The I AM Hydro Prize winners shared a cash prize pot of $175,000. Prizes were awarded in the following categories:

  • Grand Prize: Randal J. Mueller’s Utility of Large Area AM for Small Hydro was awarded $25,000 for the most innovative and impactful submission.
  • Innovator Prizes: Ten submissions across all technology areas were awarded $15,000 each. To learn more about each prize winner, please visit the I AM Hydro Prize page.

Competitors were given 120 days to develop their concepts, each consisting of the proposed solution, conceptual drawings, comparison to the state-of-the-art technologies, and justification for how the idea could lead to levelized cost of energy reductions. Though the prize solicited solutions of all shapes and sizes, organizers identified the following potential focus areas for submissions: additive manufacturing; advanced materials; casting, forming, and machining; and joining, coating, and repair.

Part of the American Made Challenges series, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory administers the I AM Hydro Prize.