January 27, 2020

DOE’S Fish Protection Prize Seeks Innovative Concepts to Reduce Fish Mortality

PNNL will offer technical support to prize competitors


The Fish Protection Prize is accepting submissions for the Concept stage of the three-part competition focused on preventing fish from entering water intakes or unwanted areas at dams keeping them in their natural habitat.


DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office

The Fish Protection Prize is now accepting innovative concepts to prevent fish from entering water intakes or unwanted areas at dams and to keep them in their natural habitat.

The three-stage competition, jointly sponsored by the Bureau of Reclamation and DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, is designed to find solutions to protect native fish populations as they navigate water infrastructures. The prize is a collaboration between PNNL, which is providing technical expertise, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is administering the prize.

The prize includes Concept, Incubate, and Pitch contest stages. PNNL will provide up to 50 hours of technical support to as many as 10 finalists in the Incubate stage. A combination of up to $700,000 in cash prizes and technical support from PNNL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Reclamation will be divided among up to three grand prize winners in the final Pitch contest this fall.

The Fish Protection Prize builds on a previous prize held by Reclamation to generate ideas for excluding fish from water diversions and intakes.

The Concept Stage

The purpose of the Concept stage is to task competitors with finding cost-effective, successful ways to address fish species entrainment in the United States at river and irrigation canal diversions, dam or power plant cooling water intakes, and unscreened diversion pipes.

Submissions to the Concept stage, which are due by April 15, must demonstrate the concept’s technical feasibility and analytical evidence.

Submissions are expected to address any fish species in the United States that encounter water diversions and hydropower and flood control dams. Species include salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and paddlefish, eel, lamprey, Delta smelt, shad, suckers, river herring, and bull trout; however, other species of concern in the United States will also be considered if they are jeopardized by water infrastructure diversions.

Six areas have been identified as the most cost-effective, potentially successful options for fish exclusion for water diversions and intakes: sensory deterrents; turbulence and velocity-based deterrents, combination stimulus barriers, diversion or intake layout/geometry; fish screen materials or coatings; and fish screen cleaning methods. Ideas may be submitted in any one of these categories; however, other categories will also be considered.

The Incubate Stage

PNNL will provide up to 50 hours of technical support to up to 10 finalists selected from the Concept stage. The finalists will work to refine their concepts as they move through the Incubate stage and prepare for the Pitch contest stage. The highlight of the prize competition will be the final live Pitch contest to be held in the fall. The judges will select three grand prize winners who will share the $700,000 in cash prizes and additional staff support time from PNNL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Reclamation. Brian Bellgraph is PNNL’s principal investigator for the prize, and Bo Saulsbury is the PNNL project manager.

“PNNL and the national laboratories are committed to working with creative-minded entrepreneurs to help advance technologies borne from the private sector that will improve environmental outcomes by reducing entrainment of fish and other aquatic organisms into water intakes and water diversions such as those found in irrigation systems or hydroelectric dams,” Bellgraph said.

To participate, visit https://americanmadechallenges.org/fishprotection.


About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://www.energy.gov/science/. For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.