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Challenge EDF - Nitrate Capture System
EDF - Nitrate Capture System
STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 245
Posted: May 26 2011
Challenge ID: 9932805
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Environmental Defense Fund is seeking a solution to the problem of agricultural nitrate pollution.  Concepts for systems to capture or concentrate nitrates from agricultural field drainage are required. 

Currently between 50% and 80% of fertilizer applied to commercial crops in the U.S. is not absorbed by the plants and is instead lost to water and air, causing dangerous environmental and health impacts in a growing number of watersheds around the country. 

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.


Concepts for systems to capture, concentrate, or treat nitrates from agricultural field drainage are required. Tile drains (submerged porous pipes) are a cost effective and efficient way to improve drainage of agricultural land. Unfortunately, they also provide an efficient route for soil fertilizers (primarily nitrates) to pollute rivers, lakes, drinking water supplies, and ecosystems downstream.  Nitrate capture and concentration or treatment (release as N2 gas) systems are required that would be amenable for application in agricultural settings and that are compatible with tile drainage systems. 

Environmental Defense Fund seeks a win-win solution for farmers, the environment and farm economics.  Farmers could reduce their operating costs by using fertilizer more efficiently, while mitigating the serious problems associated with nitrogen pollution:  coastal dead zones, impaired drinking water supplies, degraded fisheries and recreational areas, and risks to human health. 

This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:

  • There is a guaranteed award.  The awards will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $7,500, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $1,000. 
  • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker.  Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solvers grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal.

After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s).All Solvers that submitted a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.

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In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.

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