AlgaePrize Competition

Funding Agency:
Department of Energy

Launched in January 2022, the AlgaePrize is a new competition from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) that encourages students to pursue innovative ideas for the development, design, and invention of technologies within the commercial algae value chain. Fast-growing and able to store energy from sunlight, algae can be transformed into a variety of products, such as fuel, food, fertilizer, industrial compounds, and animal feed.

BETO supports research and development (R&D) to lower the costs of producing algal biofuels—such as sustainable aviation fuels—and bioproducts. BETO is working to build the algae bioeconomy of the future, where fossil fuels could be replaced with a renewable, abundant, and flexible source of energy.

Through the AlgaePrize, BETO is committed to fostering a competition environment which values and celebrates the diversity of student’s ideas, cultures, and educational backgrounds. The AlgaePrize recognizes that a diversity of thought fosters a diversity of scientific ideas, which brings new and innovation solutions to addressing the nation’s bioenergy needs. 

Though this challenge, students will gain real-world science, technology, engineering, and mathematics experience, helping to develop the next generation of bioenergy professionals.

The 2022–2023 AlgaePrize competition is open to teams of two or more students currently enrolled in a U.S.-based high school, community or technical college, college, university, or graduate program. To participate, teams must register by March 2, 2022, by 12 p.m. ET.

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Student teams should focus their project on one of the following areas of interest:

1. Production

  • Cultivar enhancement  
  • Aquaculture engineering 
  • Husbandry and productivity  

2. Downstream Processing

  • Harvesting, dewatering, and processing 
  • Development of biorefinery applications 

3. Identification of Novel Products or Tools 

  • New product development 
  • Remote sensing and modeling  
  • Ecological/environmental services   

During the year-and-a-half-long challenge, student teams will work on creative solutions for real-world issues in the algae value chain. The competition culminates in an event where teams present their research to a panel of expert judges. Winning teams from the AlgaePrize competition’s areas of interest receive a trophy, prize money, and national recognition.

Eligibility Requirements

The AlgaePrize invites participation of teams composed of at least two student members enrolled in a U.S.-based educational institution (high school, accredited community college, college, university and/or graduate school). Students must be enrolled in at least one class and must be pursuing a degree or diploma at the time a student joins a team. Teams with students from multiple educational institutions are allowed, and multiple teams from the same educational institution are allowed. However, individual students may be members of only one team.

Student participation may be integrated into a senior project or thesis, count as elective or independent study course credit, be added to the curriculum of existing classes, treated as a seminar topic, engaged in as part of a student interest club, or be an extracurricular student activity.

Each team must have a faculty advisor employed by a U.S.-based educational institution to provide input, guidance, and support. Judges, competition organizers, federal employees, and national laboratory employees are not eligible to compete in the competition. Immediate family members of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Algae Foundation, and NREL employees are not eligible to compete in the competition.

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

March 2, 2022