The United States Bureau of Reclamation, a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior that oversees water resource management, has launched its Automated Maintenance of Protection Systems Challenge. The initiative features a prize pool of $250,000 with the goal of making hydropower systems more reliable via the automation of maintenance testing of protective relays and corresponding potential and current transformers.

"Current testing protocols are labor-intensive and often require the hydropower plant to be offline," explained senior advisor for hydropower Max Spiker. "The solutions will assist Reclamation hydropower facilities and other systems with protective relays to reduce downtime, increase plant safety and save time employees spend on testing."

Source: U.S. Bureau of ReclamationSource: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The competition will include solvers submitting a paper to demonstrate their knowledge of the problem, their approach to solving the problem and describing how they will develop a prototype. As many as 10 solutions will be selected to move on to the second phase of the competition. The papers are due on September 3, 2021.

During that second phase, the solvers will build their prototype and the agency will test the prototypes. The winner will reportedly receive up to $100,000 and be eligible for the potential of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement or other technology transfer agreement to refine their solution further.

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