Geothermal Geophone Prize Funding Opportunity

Last Updated August 25, 2022

The Department of Energy (DOE) is offering $3.65M in cash prizes and vouchers to work with DOE through the American-Made Geothermal Geophone Prize.

This new prize incentivizes the development of high-temperature geophones that act as seismic sensors for down-hole use. Whether you are already working on one piece of this puzzle or are interested in leveraging existing technologies to meet prize goals, we encourage you to apply. Since this is a highly specialized field, teams with a relevant technology solution will have a strong chance of success in winning this prize!

The Geophone Prize is structured in three phases with competitors in Phase 1 vying for $75,000 in cash and $75,000 in vouchers. Competitors in phases 2 and 3 will compete for successively larger prize pools. Phase 1 applications are due September 29, 2022.

Prize Criteria

The Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) has released the performance goals outlined below, which serves as a helpful guide for determining if your technology falls in the parameters of the prize goals. Do you offer just one piece of this puzzle? Read on below to learn how you can team up with partners.

The rules outlining the prize can be found here, and the prize website offers a resource center and forum to ask questions.

Who should apply?

Companies, university researchers, and any other non-federal entities are eligible to apply. Teams that leverage the strengths of different participants are encouraged to apply. As a Power Connector, CEBN is happy to facilitate teaming. We invite you to fill out our three-question teaming form to access information about potential partners.

This prize may be of interest to those in the following industries:

  • Micro-seismic monitoring
  • Geothermal energy
  • Seismic instruments
  • High-temperature electronics
  • Fiberoptic sensing
  • Oil and gas

How do I apply?

CEBN is here to work with you throughout the application process. First-time applicants should especially feel welcome to contact us with questions or book our office hours. All materials in your application package should be submitted here.

The application package consists of:

  • 90-second video
  • Cover page
  • One Power Point slide
  • Technical assistance requests
  • Technical narrative responding to three questions regarding your innovation, your team, and your plan *
  • Letters of commitment and support (optional) *

* These materials will not be made public.

 When do I apply?

Phase I applications are not due until September 29, so you have plenty of time to find prospective partners and put together an application. Although the process for applying is straightforward, we encourage you to get started early to ensure that your application is ready and that you understand the prize goals well in advance of the deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can vouchers be used? Vouchers can be used at National Laboratories or with private entities approved by the American Made Challenges program. The voucher guidelines can be found here.

How can the cash prize be used? This is a no-strings-attached prize. There are no restrictions on how the cash prize funds are spent.

Can you tell me more about Phases 2 and 3 of this prize? Information on the later stages of the prize can be found here. Phase 2 will offer $350,000 in cash prizes and vouchers to up to 5 finalists. Phase 3 will award up to 2 winners a $350,000 cash prize. Please note that some specific details have not yet been determined, and NREL will be working with the teams to inform the later stages.

Is the prize looking for other types of technologies relevant to geothermal systems? The prize is mainly focused on geothermal geophone sensor technologies that meet the specifications shown in the table above. That being said, the prize is not prescriptive on the exact details of the sensor. If you have an existing technology that you believe can be applied to meet the criteria, you do not need to recreate the wheel to make it fit – you can submit the idea you have.

Can one individual or company work with multiple teams? Yes one individual or company can work with multiple teams.

CEBN Workshop & Teaming Event

On July 26, CEBN held a Workshop and Teaming Event, which provided an overview of the prize and featured guest speakers from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Fervo Energy, Calpine, and Stryde discussing the latest in seismic monitoring technology and the challenges this prize is aiming to solve. The event also offered an opportunity to connect with other potential prize applicants. See below to view the recording of the panel portion. Download the slides here, and be sure fill out our teaming form to connect with partners.

NREL Webinar key takeaways

NREL held a webinar on the Geophone Prize on May 19. This is a great resource, as the prize administrators went into depth on the application criteria and answered questions from prospective applicants.

You can watch a recording of the webinar below. In addition, CEBN collected our key takeaways from the webinar.

You are not alone; there are lots of resources available to help! If you have not applied to an American-Made Challenge before, some of the terms may seem a bit confusing. Here’s a quick summary of tools in the American-Made network.

    • Connectors are outside organizations who have agreed to support the various Challenges. They win awards for helping applicants and are a great way to access technical resources, tools, and facilities. You can find Connectors with the Matching Tool. On your application, please be sure to list any Connectors who help you as they may be eligible to receive modest compensation for their efforts.
    • Power Connectors are organizations who work to support a specific prize. For the Geophone Prize, CEBN is proud to be a Power Connector. (Do not list Power Connectors on your application under the Connector Awards section as it is assumed we are here to help!)
    • Finally, the DOE and NREL teams administering the prize can also help. Email or post on the HeroX forum if you have questions that can’t be answered by Connectors or Power Connectors.

Winners will receive cash prizes and vouchers. What exactly is a voucher? As stated in the webinar: “Vouchers allow winners from Phase 1 and 2 to access tools, equipment, and expertise at National Laboratories and approved organizations and facilities.” The vouchers from Phase 1 and 2 are $75,000 and $100,000 respectively, giving teams an impactful opportunity to develop, test, and validate their geophone solution.

You don’t need to satisfy every criteria. A key takeaway from this webinar is that if you have a solution durable in high-temperatures with sufficient channels, the others performance goals are additive but not required. Additionally, if you work with a non-geophone form of seismic sensing technology that could satisfy these criteria, you are also encouraged to apply. Do you offer a piece of this puzzle? Fill out CEBN’s teaming form.

Finally, innovators need not worry; the government does not retain any IP. Technology developed under the prize remains the intellectual property of the team who created it. The only exception is that if you win and choose to apply vouchers to use National Lab resources, you may need to work out an IP agreement in the contract agreement with them. In addition, rest assured that expert reviewers are vetted to ensure there are no conflicts of interest and must sign an NDA to protect your applications.


CEBN will be holding supportive events and office hours as part of our work as a Power Connector on this prize. Be sure to check back on this page for updates and reach out to Annabelle Swift with any questions.