Registration opens for Oman Humanitarian Desalination Challenge Prize
November 28, 2018 | 8:51 PM
by Times News Service
It takes time and money to get fresh water to the victims of war or meteorological disasters.

Muscat: The Oman Humanitarian Desalination Challenge Prize has officially opened to online applications, according to organisers MEDRC Water Research and The Research Council (TRC).

The challenge, which is open to applicants from around the world, includes a US$700,000 prize that will be awarded to the person or team that delivers a hand-held, standalone, low-cost, desalination device suitable for short-term use and rapid deployment in the event of a humanitarian crisis.

Dr. Hilal Ali Al Hinai, Secretary General of TRC, said, “We call on the world’s great scientists, engineers and problem solvers to compete in this challenge, to push the boundaries of science through innovation and excellence and by doing so, to save lives in the process.”

Ciarán Ó Cuinn, Centre Director of MEDRC, said, “Providing cheap, off-grid and hand-held desalination is a humanitarian game-changer often debated but never attained. It takes time and money to get fresh water to the victims of war or meteorological disasters, where fresh water sources are destroyed or when sea water immerses communities. We need a way to get water to these people in the first hours and days following the crisis. That is MEDRC’s goal through the Oman Humanitarian Desalination Challenge.”

Applicants are being asked to register through the official challenge website, The last date for registration is February 28, 2019.

Once initial registration forms have been received and reviewed for completeness, MEDRC will announce the official list of qualified entries in March 2019. Competitors will then be given five months to build their device and submit a written narrative along with an accompanying video of their device in operation in August 2019.

According to the organisers, the winning device will be required to meet a certain number of criteria:

Low cost: The estimated production cost of the device will be $20.

Hand held: The device will be hand held and easily transportable.

Easy to use: Easy to operate following simple instructions.

Robust: Resilient, corrosion resistant, long shelf life, limited use of small parts that could be lost.

Short-term use: Operate for a minimum of 30 days.

Easily transportable: Lightweight without water inside.

Rate of production: The device will produce a minimum of 3 litres of purified water per day.

Stand-alone: No additions of chemicals, fuel, or other external materials.

Quality: Device will purify 100 NTU, 35,000 mg/L seawater to 1000 mg/L TDS and meet WHO’s maximum contaminant levels.

If no winner is declared in 2019, the challenge will roll over each year until 2022, unless it is won in the interim. This timeline will allow anyone in the world to develop a device to compete once, or even after refinement, several times, to win this prize.

In support of the initiative, the United States Agency for International Development is partnering with MEDRC on a second track of funding. The funding will support a new Desalination Challenge Research Call supporting pathway research, aimed at delivering a family-sized desalination unit.

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know all the latest news