Energy Department Announces Expanded Eligibility and New Deadlines for Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Geothermal Technologies Office


June 22, 2021

Energy Department Announces Expanded Eligibility and New Deadlines for Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has expanded the eligibility requirements and set new deadlines for its Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize. The Prize, funded by DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is designed to advance technologies that improve the economics and minimize environmental impacts of lithium extraction from geothermal brines. Participants compete in three escalating challenges to identify, develop, and test solutions for an opportunity to win a portion of the $4 million cash prize pool. Register for a webinar on Monday, June 28 at 1 p.m. ET to learn more.

Lithium and other minerals found in geothermal brines power our cell phones, laptops, electric cars, grid storage batteries, and other clean energy technology. The United States is almost completely reliant on foreign sources for lithium, and worldwide demand is expected to increase 500% by 2050. Geothermal brines, produced as part of geothermal energy production, are a promising source of domestic lithium—particularly in the Salton Sea area of California—that would support our shift to a fully decarbonized grid by 2035 and secure our domestic supply of critical materials.

In addition to competitors affiliated with a U.S. academic institution, domestic small businesses and university incubator partners are now eligible to participate as prize partners.

To accommodate the expanded eligibility, the Phase 1 submission deadline has been extended to September 2, 2021. The revised schedule for all three phases can be found below.

  • Phase 1: Idea & Concept – Participants identify and develop an impactful idea or solution that addresses at least one of several technical challenges. 
    • Submissions due by 5 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2021.
  • Phase 2: Design & Invent – With the support of the Industry Advisory Panel, competitors will demonstrate their design’s promise in meeting engineering and operational requirements.
    • Submissions due February 2022.
  • Phase 3: Fabricate & Test – Competitors fabricate and test their proposed design to demonstrate its ability to improve lithium extraction from geothermal brines.
    • Submissions due March 2023.

For more information on the Prize and instructions for competing, attend an informational webinar, view the updated Prize Guidelines, and visit the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize website.