How to Compete in the American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize


The American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize is designed to increase market viability for direct lithium extraction (DLE) from geothermal brines with innovations that lower costs and lessen environmental impact. Competitors in the prize will participate in three escalating challenges for an opportunity to win a portion of the $4 million cash prize pool.


A Prize Competition Structured for Success


The Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize consists of three progressive phases that challenge competitors to move their innovation from concept to prototype.


Phase Winners Prizes
Phase 1: Idea & Concept Up to 15 $600,000 total prize pool distributed equally among semifinalists. Competitors will receive a minimum of $40,000 and maximum of $600,000.
Phase 2: Design & Invent Up to 5 $1.4 million total prize pool distributed equally among finalists. Competitors will receive a minimum of $280,000 and maximum of $1,400,000.
Phase 3: Fabricate & Test Up to 3 $2 million in total prize pool distributed for the first, second, and third place winners.

Phase 1: Idea & Concept Phase: Over three months, competitors demonstrate that they have identified and developed an impactful idea or solution that addresses one or more of the following technical challenges:

  • Developing electrochemical/electrolysis processes for the direct conversion of a lithium-bearing geothermal brine to a lithium hydroxide product without the intermediate creation of lithium carbonate.
  • Developing new absorbents, precipitants, catalysts, or new processing conditions that can efficiently and selectively extract lithium directly from geothermal brines.
  • Advancements that improve the yield and achievable product purity.
  • Advancements that reduce energy and water consumption rates.
  • Advancements that minimize and/or monetize waste products.


Competitors will propose a path to design, prototype, and test for proof of concept.

  • Phase 1 participants are evaluated by a panel of experts from industry, national labs, and DOE. Up to 15 participants will be selected as winning this phase, called “semifinalists.” They may receive between $40,000 to $600,000 in cash and are then eligible to compete in Phase 2.


Phase 2: Design & Invent: Over three months, competitors work in concert with IAP members to substantially advance their proposed tool, component, chemical process, or other advancement concept by demonstrating their design’s promise in meeting quantitative engineering and operational requirements outlined by the team. Additionally, it is expected that competitors develop a plan to test their innovation using a real geothermal brine during Phase 3.

  • Phase 2 competitors have the opportunity to collaborate with members of the IAP to receive concept design feedback in one-on-one sessions prior to the Phase 2 submission date.
  • Phase 2 competitors are evaluated by a panel of experts from industry, national labs, and DOE. Up to five competitors are selected as winning competitors at this phase, called “finalists.” They receive between $280,000 to $1.4 million in cash and are then eligible to compete in Phase 3.
  • Phase 2 competitors are also required to present to DOE and IAP members during an innovation pitch meeting.


Phase 3: Fabricate & Test: Over 12 months, competitors fabricate and test their proposed design to demonstrate its ability to improve DLE from geothermal brines. Phase 3 competitors are evaluated by a panel of experts using—in part—engineering and technical performance criteria previously submitted by each team. Phase 3 has up to three winners with a first, second, and third place prize.

Who is Eligible to Compete?


The U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office invites anyone affiliated with a U.S. academic institution, individually or as a team, to compete to transform a conceptual solution into prototype reality.