After a successful, albeit different than expected, DRINK Finale, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the winners of the Waves to Water Prize- a competition designed to accelerate the development of small, modular, wave-energy-powered desalination systems. While the four prototypes were not deployed for as long as originally intended, the results from testing the devices while they were in the ocean environment will help DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), and the Coastal Studies Institute identify future research opportunities for marine renewable energy.

The Oneka Snowflake took home the $500,000 grand prize, and the team received an additional $125,000 for producing the most water with their device.

$125,000 was awarded to Team WATER BROS, whose members hail from UNC-Charlotte, for delivering the lightest device.

$125,000 was disbursed among the four teams for Simplest Assembly. The amount awarded to each team, based on the time taken to assemble their devices, was:

  • Oneka: $80,000
  • Mark Zero Prototypes, LLC: $20,000
  • WATER BROS: $17,000
  • Project 816: $9,000

Finally, $125,000 was also distributed among the teams based on the ease of deployment and retrieval for each device. The awards were as follows:

  • Mark Zero Prototypes LLC: $38,000
  • WATER BROS: $36,000
  • Project 816: $26,000
  • Oneka: $24,000

Since the teams were unable to test their devices for the full five-day window due to complications from foul weather, each will have the opportunity individually test their own device again in North Carolina this summer. The Coastal Studies Institute looks forward to continuing work with DOE, NREL, and each of the teams, as they blaze a path toward a more sustainable, energy-resilient future. 

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.


Based at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) advances inter-disciplinary marine energy solutions across UNC System partner colleges of engineering at NC State University, UNC Charlotte, and NC A&T University.  Click on the links below for more information.




ECU's Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU's Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


Tour the ECU Outer Banks Campus and learn about the research, education, and engagement projects of CSI and ECU Integrated Coastal Programs through our 360 virtual tour.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.