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March 2022

Mark your calendar now for the U. S. Department of Energy’s American Made Challenges Waves to Water Prize competition, starting Wednesday, March 30, and running into April.

Last month, a two-day test run was conducted from the end of the pier by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), and operations went well.

Now all systems are a go for the “DRINK” stage finale, a high-profile ocean research experiment where up to five competitors seek to use ocean-wave energy to produce drinking water from seawater.

What’s at stake? Up to $1 million in cash prizes, plus the overall potential to help people in dire need of drinking water by eventually introducing wave-powered, compact pumps and desalination devices to remote or storm-damaged areas.

It all gets started when NREL and partners East Carolina University’s Coastal Studies Institute invite everyone to their nearby Skyco campus for device viewing Wednesday, March 30. At Jennette’s Pier, public events begin Friday, April 1.

This DRINK stage is the culmination of the Waves to Water Prize competition, a five-stage, $3.3 million contest. It aims to accelerate innovation in small, modular, wave-powered desalination technology capable of producing clean water in disaster and recovery scenarios, as well as in water-scarce coastal and island locations.

So, in April — when good weather is forecast — the competition will get underway with a five-day, in-water test, during which finalists will demonstrate their systems. The winner will be the one producing the greatest quantity of clean drinking water the fastest.

The public can come by to see device deployments, watch in-water demonstrations, learn about the innovations used, and see first-hand the possibilities of marine energy. There are also plans to have an art walk as well as creative-writing and photography workshops.

This will be yet another in a line of large-scale research projects hosted by the Pier since 2011. An awards ceremony will conclude the event.


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