U.S. DOE launches Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize

U.S. DOE launches Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize announcement (source: screenshot/ DOE)
Alexander Richter 1 Apr 2021

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the launch of the American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) announced a “Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize” as part of the American-Made Challenges. The prize was launched during yesterday’s NextGen Geo, a live virtual event uniting geothermal industry professionals, geosciences students, and clean energy entrepreneurs for a series of panel discussions on hot topics related to geothermal and renewable energy.

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 cost, 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.

Lithium from geothermal brines is an attractive approach in sourcing Lithium locally and is seen as of strategic importance for independence from having to source Lithium internationally not only for the United States.

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.

The Phases of the American-made Challenge – Geothermal Extraction Prize (source:

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.

Important Dates

Phase 1: Idea & Concept

  • Phase 1 submission opens: March 31, 2021
  • Phase 1 informational webinar: April 12, 2021
  • Phase 1 submission deadline: July 2, 2021 5 p.m. ET
  • Phase 1 semifinalists announced, and Phase 2 begins: Expected August 31, 2021

Phase 2: Design & Invent

  • Phase 2 submission opens: Expected August 2021
  • Phase 2 virtual innovation pitches with IAP: Expected November 2021
  • Phase 2 submission deadline: Expected November 2021
  • Phase 2 finalists announced, and Phase 3 begins: Expected January 2022

Phase 3: Fabricate & Test

  • Phase 3 submission opens: Expected January 2022
  • Phase 3 submission deadline: Expected January 2023
  • Phase 3 winners announced: Expected February 2023

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

Source: American-Made Challenges