American-Made Challenges

Solar Desalination Prize Round 2

The American-Made Challenges: Solar Desalination Prize is a multi-stage prize competition designed to accelerate the development of low-cost desalination systems that use solar-thermal power to produce clean drinking water from saltwater. Each stage of the competition will have increasing prize amounts, totaling millions of dollars.



The Solar Desalination Prize is a four-phase prize competition that will advance thermal desalination technologies to expand the utilization of non-traditional water sources, ensure water security, and improve the resilience of U.S. infrastructure.

The Prize Structure

The Solar Desalination Prize has a rapid iteration prize structure designed to help entrepreneurs use innovative research to come up with ideas, then design and test concepts, with the end goal of having shovel-ready technology primed for industry adoption.


Millions of dollars in prizes will be awarded over the competition, increasing in value in each phase, culminating in a $1 million grand prize at the end of the competition for successful testing and demonstration of promising solar desalination prototypes.


Who can participate?


Entrepreneurs, technologists, hardware developers, engineers, solar experts, and investors are all encouraged to join the challenge, be part of the American-Made Network and create ground-breaking solutions that will accelerate solar desalination technologies.



Contests & Important Dates


    Timeline graphic for Solar Desalination Prize.

  • Innovation Contest
    • Open: April 2021
    • Close: July 2021
    • Quarterfinalists announced Sept. 2021
    • Review the technical specifications that teams should consider during the Innovation Contest

  • Teaming Contest
    • Open: Sept. 2021
    • Close: Feb. 2022
    • Semifinalists will be announced April 2022

  • Design Contest
    • Open: April 2022
    • Submissions accepted: As soon as competitors are ready
    • Finalists are expected to be announced one month after DOE receives submissions
    • Close: April 2025

  • Test Contest
    • Open: April 2022
    • Submissions accepted: The second Monday in April annually
    • Winners are expected to be announced one month after the DOE site visit


Follow the prize to be updated on future dates and the official rules.


All dates are subject to change including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements.

Solutions that help shape the future

Aerial imagery of a water treatment facility.

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.


Ready for the Challenge?