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Energy Department Offers $1.5M Prize to Design Subsurface Visualization Tool

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) will award up to $1.5 million to winning innovators in a prize challenge to support FE’s SMART (Science-informed Machine Learning to Accelerate Real Time Decisions in the Subsurface) initiative.

Click here to watch a short video about the SMART Visualization Platform Prize Challenge and learn how to register to take part in this unique software development contest.

SMART leverages the expertise of seven national laboratories, as well as industry partners, universities, unconventional field laboratories and carbon storage regional initiatives to realize breakthroughs in understanding the subsurface environment through machine learning. A thorough understanding of the subsurface is necessary to reduce risks and increase the efficiency of enhanced and unconventional oil and natural gas recovery, geothermal energy technologies, geological carbon storage and other operations.

Currently, approaches to analyze subsurface data are extremely rigorous, require expert training and are time-consuming and costly. This challenge seeks the expertise of software developers and skilled professionals in similar fields to create a comprehensive visualization solution for the subsurface environment that can be readily accessed by scientists, engineers, regulators and the public, and works in unison with both traditional data and data output from new machine learning workflows.

New experiential visualization tools are sought to allow non-experts and experts alike to interact directly with subsurface data to enhance analysis, interpretation and communication necessary for decision-making in various subsurface applications. The tool to be developed should help users visually answer important subsurface questions about reservoir behavior, reservoir composition, injection patterns, uncertainty in measurements and other critical issues.

This challenge will take place in two phases, both of which will be managed by NETL.

  • Competitors will register for Phase 1 and work over a four- to five-month period to design a prototype visualization system that meets defined challenges faced by subsurface researchers. Up to five prizes with a total value of up to $600,000 will be awarded in the initial phase.
  • Winners selected from Phase 1 will work with SMART scientists and engineers over a 10-month collaborative effort to fully develop their concepts in Phase 2. The winner of Phase 2 will receive the Grand Prize (worth up to $900,000) and may be granted the opportunity to work on future software development projects for the SMART initiative.

Registration deadline to participate in the challenge is 11:59 p.m. EDT Friday, Jan 22, 2021. To register for the competition, visit the SMART Visualization Platform Challenge website.

The challenge will be formally announced on NETL and DOE websites, as well as Watch for announcements in computer science, gaming and visualization magazines and blogs.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory develops and commercializes advanced technologies that provide reliable and affordable solutions to America’s energy challenges. NETL’s work supports DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the United States.