American-Made Challenges

Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize

The American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize is designed to find solutions that de-risk and increase market viability for direct lithium extraction (DLE) from geothermal brines. Advancement of DLE technologies allow for improved methods that lower costs, lessen environmental impact, and further the mission to turn the threat of climate change into an opportunity to revitalize the U.S. energy and critical materials supply chain.


The Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize

Lithium is a major component of high-charge-density batteries for electric vehicles and grid-scale electricity storage. It is expected that global demand for lithium will increase by 500% by 2050 due to widespread adoption of electric vehicles and grid-scale battery storage, making lithium supplies a crucial element in the clean energy supply chain.

The current U.S. lithium stock is almost entirely imported, with only 1% of U.S. lithium supply being sourced domestically. Traditional sources of lithium are environmentally destructive and cost prohibitive due to the complexity of the extraction process. The combination of rapidly expanding global demand and lack of a secure domestic supply has created an urgency to develop a safe, domestic, and cost-competitive source of lithium. Advancements in domestic geothermal lithium extraction will also help ensure American leadership in the transition to a carbon-free economy and clean energy job creation throughout a robust domestic supply chain.

Prize Structure

The Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize consists of three phases that will fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and test disruptive solutions to improve the profitability of DLE from geothermal brines. Each stage will include a contest period when participants work to rapidly advance their solutions.


Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Semifinalists


These 15 teams are advancing to Phase 2, each taking home $40,000 in cash prizes, along with a chance to win part of the $1.4 million Phase 2 prize pool.


Team Affiliation
Lithium from Home Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Freeman Lab The University of Texas at Austin
SelectPureLi University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Nanoporous Graphene Membrane Massachusetts Institute of Technology
LiSED Rice University
Team TELEPORT University of Virginia
University of Utah The University of Utah
Ellexco The George Washington University
Lirix-nano Sengupta University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Espiku Oregon State University
Pober-Strauss Boston University
Miami Solution University of Miami
Univ of Wyoming Team Goldilocks University of Wyoming
Bruce Parkinson’s Team University of Wyoming
Tech Desal Texas Tech University


Important Dates


  • Phase 1: Idea & Concept
    • Phase 1 submission opens: April 1, 2021
    • Phase 1 submission deadline: September 2, 2021 5 p.m. ET
    • Phase 1 semifinalists announced and Phase 2 begins: November 4, 2021

  • Phase 2: Design & Invent
    • Phase 2 submission opens: Expected November 4, 2021
    • Phase 2 virtual Industry Advisory Panel (IAP) shark tank: Expected week of March 28, 2022
    • Phase 2 submission deadline: Expected April 2022
    • Phase 2 finalists announced and Phase 3 begins: Expected July 2022

  • Phase 3: Fabricate & Test
    • Phase 3 submission opens: Expected July 2022
    • Phase 3 submission deadline: Expected July 2023
    • Phase 3 winners announced: Expected September 2023


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

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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