Today, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced a $1 million Water Resource Recovery Prize to accelerate resource recovery from municipal wastewater across the United States. Through this two-phased competition, DOE is accepting proposals for novel, systems-based solutions to stimulate resource recovery at small-to-medium-sized water resource recovery facilities. This effort can help lower the cost of wastewater treatment.

Water is a critical resource for human health, economic growth, and agricultural productivity. The United States has historically benefitted from access to low-cost water supplies, but challenges for freshwater supplies could threaten U.S. economic competitiveness and water security. Resource recovery can reduce the grid electricity required to operate a wastewater treatment plant and can offer a substitute for water sources with a higher level of embedded energy for industrial, agricultural, and municipal use.

In the first phase of competition, teams will be required to submit an engineering schematic and business case that demonstrate the potential for cost-effectiveness and viability of resource recovery.  DOE anticipates selecting up to 10 winning teams for cash prizes of $50,000 each as part of phase one. Submissions are due no later than 5:00 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

Teams selected during phase one will move into phase two, in which one to two teams will be selected to receive $250,000 cash prizes. DOE expects to give teams one year from phase one selection to submit final phase two materials. Only small- and medium-sized facilities (those with flows of up to 50 million gallons per day) are eligible to participate. Specific rules governing phase two submissions will be released at the conclusion of phase one in spring 2020.

View the submission instructions and participant eligibility for both phases of the competition.

This Water Resource Recovery Prize was developed with feedback from industry stakeholders in response to a Request for Information issued by EERE in fall 2019. This prize is part of the Water Security Grand Challenge, a White House-initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. It focuses on the Water Security Grand Challenge goal of doubling resource recovery from water resource recovery facilities by 2030. The prize also supports EERE's American-Made Challenges which incentivize the Nation's entrepreneurs to strengthen American leadership in energy innovation and domestic manufacturing.