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What is More Water Less Concentrate?

More Water Less Concentrate is a public competition focused on discovering innovative, affordable, and environmentally sound solutions to reduce the volume of concentrate and generate more usable water from inland desalination plants. Refer to the Technical Guidelines for additional details.  The challenge asks individuals, teams, and organizations that meet the eligibility criteria to design and develop solutions to meet this need.

Who can participate?

Individuals, teams, and organizations that meet the eligibility criteria are welcome to submit a proposed solution. U.S. government employees may participate so long as they are not acting within the scope of their position and do not rely on facilities, access, personnel, knowledge or other resources that are available to them as a result of their employment except for those resources available to all participants on an equal basis.

International participants are welcome to submit.

Refer to the Rules for a complete set of eligibility requirements.

How do I submit a proposed solution?

You must first register no later than Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at 5:00 PM Mountain. Registration is a simple two-step process. First, create a username and password, and then check your inbox to confirm your registration. Next, complete the online registration form. Once you are registered, submissions are due no later than Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at 5:00 PM Mountain.

What can I win?

Up to five Finalists will receive an award of $115,000 each to build a functioning prototype according to their submissions. This award will be disbursed in three payments that correspond to progress in creating the prototype:

  • Designation as a Finalist: $25,000
  • Schematic diagram of technology with detailed mass and energy balances: $65,000
  • Progress Report, including Proof of Concept: $25,000

The Winner will receive a $150,000 award. A pool of $100,000 may be additionally awarded to Finalists who are not named as the Winner.

How will submissions be assessed?

There will be two rounds of scoring assessment. During the Evaluation Panel review, each valid submission will receive scores and comments from a highly qualified panel of expert reviewers who will use a scoring rubric to assess their assigned submissions. All scores are normalized to ensure fairness for everyone. Informed by the ranking of results as determined by the Evaluation Panel -- with consideration given to diversity of solutions – up to five top-scoring submissions, as determined by Common Pool, will be named as Finalists. Finalists will attend a demonstration event where the Demonstration Event Panel will evaluate the performance of the prototypes to inform the final Winner selection.

What happens to my intellectual property?

While the Solution Title, Solution Description, Technical Abstract, and Video for your submission may be published on this website and/or the Bureau of Reclamation website, the ownership and use of intellectual property arising from this competition remains with you. The Bureau of Reclamation may choose to negotiate for a right to use license for winning solutions developed as a result of the competition.

How do you define current practices for inland desalination concentrate management?

Current practice for brackish water desalination in the US is reverse osmosis (RO) or electrodialysis. For the feed water to be used in this competition, RO is capable of recovering approximately 80% of the initial feed. The goal of this competition is to discover solutions that more efficiently reduce the volume of the remaining 20%. Solutions that describe only current methods for concentrate disposal, such as discharge (ocean, surface water, sewer, etc.), deep well injection, and evaporation ponds are not of interest.

What kind of characteristics are you looking at from an environmental perspective?

Characteristics include final residuals management, energy requirement, chemical usage, and footprint. This is not a comprehensive list, and there may be other environmental characteristics.

What energy source is available during the demo event?

Finalists will have access to 480 V 3-phase and 110V single-phase power. Funding limitations of the prize competition and site logistics do not allow for other types of energy sources to be used for this competition. Electricity can be converted into other energy sources needed for the demonstration event. Finalists can describe why an alternate source of energy would be preferred for full scale implementation and how it would allow their system to operate more effectively.

What is the antiscalant used at the Yuma Desalting Plant?

The antiscalant used in in the RO feed is Sodium Hexametaphosphate (SHMP) at a bulk concentration of 2% by weight. It is injected into the RO feed before the high-pressure pumps at a target dose of 1.5 mg of SHMP per liter of water. While the concentration of SHMP in the concentrate is not measured, it can be assumed to be about 5-6 mg/L.

For the demonstration event, what are the height limitations?

The maximum allowable equipment height in the Water Quality Improvement Center at the Yuma Desalting Plant is 14 feet.

We’re a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program grantee. Can we submit a proposed solution?

If you are a past grantee of the SBIR program, you may submit a proposed solution. If you are a current grantee, please note that no U.S. government funds may be used to prepare your submission. If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact us.

I have a disability. How can I get help with my submission?

If you need assistance completing the registration and/or submission process, please c ontact us. We encourage people with disabilities to submit a proposed solution to More Water Less Concentrate. We provide accommodations as needed.

How can I contact someone at the Bureau of Reclamation about my submission?

Please direct all questions regarding More Water Less Concentrate to, and a member of our support team will respond as quickly as possible.