The U.S. Department of Energy on June 13 opened the first stage of its $2.5 million Waves to Water Prize program that aims to accelerate the development of ­wave-energy powered desalination systems.

The agency wants modular and easily transportable solutions that ultimately can serve the “clean water needs of remote communities or aid in disaster relief scenarios,” a release stated.

The program participants will advance their entries in four stages, from concept, to technical design, to the building of a prototype, and finally in an open water ­testing competition, where the systems will produce clean water using only waves as power sources.

The first, developing the concept, is now open for applications through Sept. 11, 2019. It offers funding up to $10,000 each for as many as 20 winners, for a total of $200,000.

In the 90-day second phase slated to start in ­October, up to 20 winners will share equally in an $800,000 purse, but not to exceed $100,000 per team.

Competitors in the 180-day third stage starting in February 2020 must build a functional prototype or proof-of-concept of their system, and develop a plan to build and deliver their technology for the final stage. As many as 10 winners will be awarded equal shares of the $500,000 purse capped at $150,000. Any eligible entity may compete in this stage, regardless of whether they competed in the two earlier stages.

Winners of the previous stage will have to up to 180 days starting in October 2020 to build and ship their systems to a designated test site in the ocean to conduct a test for up to five days.

A grand prize of $500,000 will be awarded to the competitor with the best overall score, and a variety of other prizes will be awarded from a $500,000 pool for individual excellence in the scoring categories.

The Waves to Water prize is the first launched under the White House-initiated Water Security Grand ­Challenge, a DOE-led framework the agency says will advance ­“transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water.”

More information on the competition may be found at the program's website.