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Geophone Prize

The American-Made Geothermal Geophone Prize is designed to address the challenges of operating seismic sensors in geothermal environments. Fast-tracking innovative solutions for economically viable and durable downhole sensors is crucial to the increased deployment of geothermal energy and the clean energy revolution.

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Geophone Prize

Traditional seismic monitoring tools cannot withstand the high temperatures, high rock strengths, and corrosive working fluids in geothermal wells. Due to these environmental challenges and the small size of the U.S. geothermal market, the manufacturing of components and tools for geothermal environments can be prohibitively expensive.

Downhole sensors are important to increased deployment of geothermal energy because they collect rich data sets that give us information about geothermal reservoirs, which exist 8,000—12,000+ feet beneath the ground. The data they collect demonstrate how the reservoir rock is evolving before, during, and after enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) stimulations, which involve the injection of water into the subsurface to create or re-open existing fractures to access stranded heat. To perform successful stimulations and ultimately develop successful and efficient EGS reservoirs, we need to understand the subsurface conditions. The reliable deployment of robust, high-temperature, and high-sensitivity monitoring tools are the key to collecting this information.

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Downhole wide-bandwidth sensors that measure real-time seismicity are a family of tool that has an especially important place in EGS development. Tracking micro-seismicity allows us to understand and monitor changes in the subsurface before, during, and after stimulation and ensures safe geothermal operations. Improving the ability to monitor and locate micro-seismic events at high temperatures and very close to the reservoir will provide a wealth of additional information on the induced fracture system resulting from stimulation efforts.

Without this high-resolution, real-time micro-seismic data to inform how the reservoir is growing, geothermal developers cannot fully utilize valuable micro-seismic data to adjust operations and design the most effective and efficient EGS reservoirs.

Advancing EGS technology has the potential to enable the development 60 gigawatts of projected geothermal electricity capacity by 2050. The American-Made Geothermal Geophone Prize is designed to spark innovation and take advantage of this opportunity.

Prize Structure

The Geothermal Geophone Prize consists of three phases that will fast-track efforts to design, test, and fabricate advanced functional seismometer prototypes. Each stage will include a contest period when competitors work to rapidly advance their solutions with the support of the American-Made Network.

Graphic of the American-Made Challenges Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize framework; Idea & Concept, Design & Invent, Fabricate & Test.

Important Dates

  • Phase 1: Concept
    • Phase 1 submission opens: April 22, 2022
    • Phase 1 submission deadline: September 29, 2022 5 p.m. ET
    • Phase 1 semifinalists announced: December 2, 2022
  • Phase 2: Make
    • Phase 2 submission opens: Expected December 3, 2022
    • Phase 2 submission deadline: Expected October 3, 2023
    • Phase 2 finalists announced: Expected December 1, 2023
  • Phase 3: Build
    • Phase 3 submission opens: Expected December 2, 2023
    • Phase 3 submission deadline: Expected March 4, 2025
    • Phase 3 finalists evaluated at Geophone Demo Day: TBD

All dates are subject to change including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements. Sign up for updates on our HeroX challenge page.

Who is Eligible to Compete?

The competition is open to private organizations (for-profits and nonprofits), nonfederal government entities (such as states, counties, tribes, and municipalities), academic institutions, and individuals that meet all eligibility requirements. For more information, review the official prize rules.


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Solutions that help shape the future

Are you a thinker, entrepreneur, facility or potential partner? Anyone with an innovative idea can help promote transformation by participating in the American-Made Challenges.

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