Draft Timeline

Given the maturity of technology across the various fields, we foresee that much of the competition will center around the optimization of solutions and system integration.

With this in mind, please share your views of this draft timeline

Phase 1: Qualification Round

Teams will have 6 months to develop their white paper submissions for the competition.

Judges will review detailed submissions from teams covering their plans to develop the solution. Judges will select the most compelling submissions to move forward.

Phase 2: Controlled Environment - Lab Scale Test

Finalists will have 12 months to develop their solution, per the white paper submission.

Judges will remotely observe a critical component demonstration at a testing facility site. Teams will locally test their solution in a lab-environment, requiring third-party validation on all performance related data. Up to 10 teams will move forward to the Final Round.

Phase 3: Controlled Environment - Live Demonstration

Judges will remotely observe a pilot-scale, proof-of-concept demonstration in a safely contained, controlled environment requiring third-party validation on all performance related data. (6 months)

Context: a pilot-scale model could imply that solutions would demonstrate partial capability in terms of total judging requirements and/or scale in terms of water input/output.

Anticipating that this prize will hinge on competitors’ ability to integrate different technologies to create a novel solution – how much time is needed for tech development in this sector?

  • Will 24 months suffice?
  • Should either phase be longer or shorter?

@RamonaP, @willsarni, @Thanku, @BennyL, what do you think?

@Vero, @cinzia91, @Elaine71, I’d also like to ask your opinion on this. Do you think the timeline sets an ambitious goal without being unrealistic?

Even better schedule and phases than Water Abundance XPrize!!! Thanks for watching over all researchers on Earth. Realistic? Of course!!

A long time ago the Chinese philosopher Confucius is supposed to have said “Do not attempt vast projects with half vast ideas.” It is good advice. In the modern context we need to understand whether we are dealing with off the shelf technology or technology that still needs to be developed. Obviously, if the technology still needs to be developed then the timeline stretches out further, possibly much further. But even here we can expedite the development by picking the brains of people who are cutting edge in their technological thinking on related technologies. And my advice is to identify people working on cutting edge technologies that use processes similar to those that would be used in feasible waste water treatment and ask them how long it would take to modify what they do to meet the constraints of your project. These people could be anywhere in the world. They may be in Russia or one of its former associated states such as Kazakhstan, or in India or in china etc. They may be people who have proprietary technologies such as novel superconductors that they are understandably reluctant to describe but who in general terms can say that they could adapt their proprietary technology for the purpose you have in mind to meet your needs. You really only care that they can demonstrate they have a workable system that can be used by communities, often in very impoverished areas of various countries such as the slums of India or Brazil’s favelas etc. You are not looking to steal their technology. So you might get surprising cooperation. These inventors and innovators are interested in doing both something good for humanity and good for their bottom line. They might give you the answers you need. Good luck…

The proposed timeline works for technologies TRL1-6.

Thank you for your feedback, @OctopusGarden and @RamonaP!

@boblf029, we definitively agree good ideas and innovations can come from anywhere, that is why our competitions are open to individuals and teams from around the world!

@Vesa, @rdrogers, @carlbozzuto, we’d appreciate your input as well! Do you think this timeline strikes the right balance between audacious on the one hand and realistic and fair to competing teams on the other?

Pilot plant development always takes more time and money than planned. For the CARBON XPRIZE, we selected the 10 finalists by early 2018. We allowed about 1 year for fund raising, design, and permitting. The equipment was to be purchased and installed by the summer of 2019, with test results by early 2020. The winner(s) would be announced in the spring of 2020. All of the teams had difficulty meeting this schedule. None of the teams had equipment up and running in the time frame envisioned. About 6 months was added to the schedule to allow the teams more time. The revised schedule was to have a decision by the fall of 2020. Of course, the current lock down has caused problems with that schedule. I didn’t see anything about the size of the proposed pilot scale water treatment plants. A full sized water treatment facility near where I live is designed for 67 million gal/day. Assuming a similar size relationship to the CARBON XPRIZE, the pilot plant size would be 1/10,000th of the commercial scale, or 6.7 thousand gal./day, or roughly 5 gpm. In my experience in running a large laboratory that build pilot plant scale equipment routinely, it takes roughly 2 years to get funding approvals, design the equipment and the layout for the location, obtain the appropriate permits, purchase the equipment, get it installed, and then get the installed equipment checked out and ready for testing. Then an appropriate test program will be required. Test results have to be submitted, vetted, and evaluated for the prize. Given that reliability was one of the considerations, some kind of extended run should probably be required. There will probably be the need for third party testing of the product to verify that the produced water is, indeed, safe. All of these things take time. I would suggest that 30 months would be very tight. I would need to see a fully developed schedule of what exactly would be required in Phase 3 to go beyond that suggestion.

The timeline is probably sufficient for existing companies with existing products and with product development of those.
It is also sufficient for universities.
The ones who are going to have problems are innovators who may have great ideas but they lack financial and technological support.
Some innovators do not have the skill to convince others.
If you have a design that is radically new; no one dares to support an unknown innovator.
In worst case they think you are an impostor or simply mad.
If it is a design development; then they do not see a profit or commercial value.
Financiers may also want to see a patent. And that can be a major problem.
I hope XPRIZE will help those who present interesting novel ideas and products with sponsors and other aid. So the competition gives all a good possibility to compete.
XPRIZE can also support the innovators/startups with contacts during and after the competition?
But I think you should go for the timeline.

No time to waste.

Nick, the issue of water that you are managing on behalf of XPrize is perhaps the most important issue we face as human beings on this small planet. Quite simply, water and how we use it is crucial to life. And given the climate change challenges and the consensus of scientists that we have precious little time, maybe ten years, to solve the problems created by the climate changes we are seeing, we need to do things with deliberate haste.
I think your approach while reflective of nice values of being inclusive and trying to see the other’s point of view is simply too slow. You don’t know me but most people who do would be amazed to hear me say anybody is going too slow. I am an exponent of Japanese decision making. The first thing you do in Japa nese decision making is sit and think.about what is the problem And maybe just sits. Until the real issue becomes clear. We already know the real issue. We do not have enough clean drinking water. We need to get us some clean drinking water and we need to do it quickly. So now is the time for breakneck speed. And the way to do that in my opinion is to reach out much more aggressively to people all over the world who are working on solving their countriy’s water problems. And running several new teams who will come up with ideas that might seem to people such as myself to be science fiction but which because of where they are coming from are just a bit ahead of our time but doable if we get off ourbehinds and get moving. So forget about being nice to all of us and rewrite the rules for this particular prize by rounding up the best people on the planet, and inviting anyone else who has some creds in this area, to stick the two cents in. I won’t be offended if down the line I offer an idea and you can say with a pleasant smile that we already considered that in our forum and decided it was not quick enough or cheap enough or whatever. Good luck.

This is an interesting question to consider–the timing of things. I assume that any group participating would already have been prototyping and thus wouldn’t need as much time on the front end for their white paper…so 6 months is probably fine. I assume the last 6 months of the 24 month cycle is for demonstrations? My initial sense is that more time in the “practice” phase (lab scale test) might help teams learn as it could increase the number of feedback loops over time–which should improve the quality/efficacy of their solutions. Wondering if the demonstration phase needs to be 6 months if we increase the initial phase (if needed, again my assumption is that groups are prepared coming in and won’t need extra time) and/or the lab scale test.

Hoping this was useful to the discussion.

The timeline for the initial two steps is certainly reasonable, and perhaps could even be accelerated slightly if there is a consensus of valuing urgency. For the pilot-scale phase, however, 6 months seems unrealistic. These are large systems that require extensive design, procurement, and validation. 12 months seems like an absolute minimum to achieve something that could be properly evaluated at such a scale.

I very much agree with the previous comment. If we assume that most technologies are already identified then the real challenge becomes contextualizing and adapting them in the field. Particularly if these innovations are expected to benefit poor communities or those in rapidly urbanizing developing countries (where human needs and water insecurity are most pressing) there will be a host of challenges that cannot be anticipated or addressed in a lab setting. In addition, water recycling requires a great deal of careful communication as there is often considerable public resistance to the reuse of water. Piloting in a real world setting and the learnings that come from that are important for upscaling. I would suggest more time for pilots. I would also suggest a disciplined effort to capture insights from the ten pilots, perhaps by asking your third party verification team to capture information not only on water volumes but also on lessons learned during the pilot on design, implementation and communications.

Thank you all for your feedback! This is super helpful to our team.

I agree in general with most of the comments & remarks previously posted, and concur with @carlbozzuto that the proposed timeline is very ambitious and difficult to achieve due to external factors beyond any teams’ control (funding, regulatory approvals, potential construction & procurement delays, intellectual property as well as public safety concerns, etc.), especially for water/energy projects. I’d suggest a total of 36 months, perhaps: Phase 1 - 6 to 8 months, Phase 2 - 18 to 20 months, Phase 3 - 6 to 8 months.