Prize Objective

The Waves to Water Prize is a $3.3-million contest designed to incentivize the development of small, modular, wave-powered desalination systems that achieve one of the following goals:

  • Flexible in Varied Wave Conditions: Systems developed must survive harsh wave conditions and operate under varying wave conditions without needing major tuning to ensure operation at a wide variety of locations. 
  • Easily Deployed: Systems must be capable of being deployed in less than 48 hours, addressing the need to deploy quickly and easily in a disaster response scenario where there is large uncertainty around site conditions.
  • Ships in a Standard Container: Technologies must fit into a predefined container in order to standardize the shipping constraints that face many disaster response and recovery scenarios.
  • Operates Without Environmental Degradation: Technologies must manage salt concentration issues stemming from the process of desalinating water without creating environmental issues.
  • Delivers Minimum Water Quality: The maximum total dissolved solids concentration for this competition is 1,000 milligrams per liter.

Increased R&D into wave-powered desalination systems has the potential to provide clean drinking water in both disaster relief scenarios and remote coastal locations.


The Waves to Water Prize, funded by the Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) consists of five stages (CONCEPT, DESIGN, ADAPT, CREATE, and DRINK). The final stage (DRINK Stage) culminates in an open-water testing competition at Jennette’s Pier in North Carolina. This prize builds on the success of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wave Energy Prize, which catalyzed the development of technologies that doubled the energy captured from ocean waves.

EERE Selections

Funding Awardees

  • Winners of CREATE Stage, who will test their creations at a competition at Jennette’s Pier for the final DRINK Stage:
    • Ballast, Buoys, and Borrowing from Archimedes (Edwards Air Force Base, California)
    • DUO Wave-Powered Desalination System (Orono, Maine)
    • MZSP Freshwater Production System (Woodbury, Connecticut)
    • Oneka Snowflake (Fort Pierce, Florida)
    • Wave-Actuated, Tethered, Emergency Response, Buoyant Reverse Osmosis System (Wake Forest, North Carolina).
  • DRINK Stage winners:
    • To be determined.