Today, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced five winners in the CREATE Stage of the Waves to Water Prize, a competition focused on using the power of waves to develop clean energy-powered desalination technologies to help provide potable water to communities in need.

"We will need a broad spectrum of technologies to tackle climate change and deliver the decarbonization goals set out by the Biden-Harris Administration," said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. "Through the Waves to Water Prize, we are equipping these entrepreneurs and innovators in marine energy with the resources they need to demonstrate these novel technologies that can increase community resiliency in the face of disaster recovery by producing clean water from the power of the ocean."

Wave-powered desalination technologies hold the potential to deliver clean drinking water to communities in need—for example, in disaster recovery scenarios, as well as to remote and coastal communities. Over three years, the Waves to Water Prize provides innovators a pathway from initial concept to field-testing their wave energy-powered desalination devices.

CREATE is the fourth of the five-stage Waves to Water Prize, with total funds of up to $3.3 million. Competitors in the CREATE stage had 180 days to build a functional prototype or proof of concept of their system. The winners will share a $500,000 prize pool; project titles and locations include:

  • Ballast, Buoys, and Borrowing from Archimedes (Edwards Air Force Base, CA);
  • DUO Wave-Powered Desalination System (Orono, ME)
  • MZSP Freshwater Production System (Woodbury, CT);
  • Oneka Snowflake (Fort Pierce, FL);
  • Wave-Actuated, Tethered, Emergency Response, Buoyant Reverse Osmosis System (Wake Forest, NC);

"The climate crisis is an existential threat that can only be mitigated through bold ideas and new technology. MarkZero's Freshwater Production System is a perfect example of that kind of innovation in Connecticut. The ability to transform seawater into clean drinking water can be the difference between life and death after a natural disaster, especially for remote communities. I'm proud to see their project advance to the final stage of the Waves to Water prize, and I wish the team the best of luck," said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (CT).

“America’s clean energy sector creates good-paying jobs; strengthens local, regional, and national economies; and holds great promise in the fight against climate change,” said U.S. Senators Collins and King in a joint statement.  “The University of Maine's assets and expertise in offshore structures within the Advanced Structures and Composites Center's Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Lab are so valuable to our country’s efforts to boost renewable power.  These types of businesses are helping accelerate the development of critical technologies and economic opportunity.”

"I am pleased that a team from North Carolina's Fourth Congressional District has advanced to the final stage of the "Waves to Water" competition to harness the power of waves in order to bring water to communities in need. With their Wave-Actuated Tethered Emergency Response Buoyant Reverse Osmosis System Desalination (WATER BROS) submission, the team from Wake Forest is making all of North Carolina proud!" said U.S. Congressman David Price (NC-04). "I am also thrilled that this team will join the other prize finalists to test their prototypes on the North Carolina coast. We must continue to invest in clean technologies that can help us Build Back Better and safe drinking water is at the top of that list. I am proud to advocate for these types of investments in Congress and look forward to continuous innovation—especially from North Carolinian trailblazers—in desalination systems."

Winners will advance to the final stage of the prize, DRINK. In the DRINK Stage, competitors will have up to 180 days to build and ship their wave-powered desalination prototypes to Jennette's Pier in North Carolina, where the devices will undergo up to five days of testing in the open ocean.  

Learn more about the Waves to Water Prize and follow the competitors' progress as they near the grand finale.