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Outer Banks to Be Waves to Water Test Site

Daniel R Simmons, assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, announced in this video Friday that the final stage of the five-stage American Made Challenges Waves to Water prize, a challenge to create a system that can produce clean water using the power of waves, will be on the open water at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, in partnership with Coastal Studies Institute, or CSI.

In addition to releasing the final testing location, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory officials announced the 17 winners of the second design stage, which is listed on the project webpage.

Waves to Water timeline. Image: DOE

Competitors started in June 2019 with the first, or concept, stage, where they presented their initial ideas and were judged of their innovation and creativity. Winners of the second or design stage announced Monday will advance to the adapt stage. During this stage, teams will continue their computer-based modeling work, tweaking system designs to account for the specific wave conditions at Jennette’s Pier, according to DOE.

Following the adapt stage, competitors will return to the lab for the create stage, expected to launch February 2021. This stage through September 2021 will challenge contestants to build a functional prototype or proof-of-concept of their system and develop a plan to build and deliver their technology for testing at Jennette’s Pier during the final DRINK Stage, a five-day, open-water test, scheduled for the spring of 2022.

During the drink stage, contestants will build and test their innovative systems that use only waves as a power source for desalination systems capable of providing clean water in disaster and recovery scenarios, as well as in water-scarce coastal and island locations.

“These competitors and their wave-powered desalination systems could hold a key to coastal community resilience,” said Simmons. “Their groundbreaking ideas could help us find a sustainable solution to the challenge of water scarcity, in both the wake of disasters and for day-to-day needs in these communities.”

CSI is a multi-institutional research and education partnership led by East Carolina University, in collaboration with NC State University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Wilmington and Elizabeth City State University. CSI operates a renewable energy testing site in partnership with Jennette’s Pier, a North Carolina Aquariums’ operated facility on the Outer Banks.

“CSI brings together multidisciplinary researchers to solve our most urgent coastal challenges, including renewable energy development,” said George Bonner, Director of the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program at CSI. “We are proud to partner with the U.S. Department of Energy to host tomorrow’s desalination trailblazers here in the Outer Banks.”

Part of the American-Made Challenges series, the Waves to Water Prize was the first prize announced in DOE’s Water Security Grand Challenge that focused on advancing transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for secure and affordable water.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.