The evaluation

Evaluation criteria for the TUM DeSal Challenge (subject to minor changes)

The selected teams will build and present their desalination plants on the day of the competition.

The teams will compete with one another in 6 categories which are weighted differently to come up with the overall ranking. The highest score achievable is 1,000 points.

Since they have objectively-verifiable criteria, categories 1 and 2 are graded individually. Categories 3 through 6, in turn have differently weighted sub-categories that lead to an overall ranking corresponding to the grading systems used in the German school system (1 - 6 with the 1 being the top grade). These determine the score.

In the unlikely event of a tie, the team with the lowest cost (calculated in € per cubic meter of fresh water per day) will be declared the winner.


Categories and sub-categories:

1. Drinking water capacity and quality (300 points)

The main criteria is the amout of drinking water that was produced in one day, plus the salt content.

To evaluate this criteria, the plants will be operated on the day of the finals. The average amount of drinking water that was produced within an hour will be weighted with a factor for the average amount of salt to come up with the ranking.

The weighted factor for the amount of salt is calculated as follows: The produced amount of drinking water will be multiplied by 1 if salinity averages 0-250ppm, by 0.9 if salinity averages 251-500ppm, by 0.8 if salinity averages 501-750ppm and by 0.7 if salinity averages 751-1,000ppm. Salinity of more than 1,000ppm will lead to disqualification.

The plants will run the entire day with brine that corresponds to the salinity of the Mediterranean (38,000pp, 3.8%). The brine will be provided by the organizer.

The tools for measuring the salinity will be donated by PCE Deutschland.

2. Cost planning (150 points / EC)

This criteria is obviously critical for determining a plant's feasability in less developed regions. In many cases there is simply not enough money to build water treatment facilities. This forces the region's population to drink unsafe water. To consider this aspect and to avoid a “battle of material” during the competition, material costs will be limited to 2,000 euros per system. An appropriate cost plan that includes an invoice for the materials and proof of expenditure must be presented to the jury. Projects that clearly exceed the 2.000 euros will be excluded from the competition

3. Maintenance effort, ease of operation and installation (200 points)

Maintenance effort as well as installation is crucial for operation in developing countries. How often is maintenance required? What equipment is required? How qualified do the personnel have to be? Is the equipment on hand? Are specific replacements or tools needed? How high are the operating costs?

Since these plants are often used by children or older people in developing countries, safe operation is a critical aspect.

The primary criteria for the ease of operation are the level of automation as well as the resource demand. In other words: How big is the daily workload per liter of drinking water? How much effort is required to power the system? Is the plant manually operated, does it require wood That is hard to obtain or does it run automatically on solar power?

Ease of installation is particulary important in less developed regions. The jury will look at how much effort is required to install and operate the plant, including preparing the local infrastructure.

The transportation effort and construction in developing countries is also factored into the evaluation.

4. Degree of innovation (150 points)

This category evaluates the level of creativity in finding a desalination solution. The jury considers new approaches as well as the combination of established methods. Half of the points will be awarded to the application concept. The remaining points will be awarded for the development of creative and innovative ideas on the day of the competition.

5. Design & Engineering (100 Points)

This category takes into consideration the design of the plant and the elegance of the technical solution, including the industrial design (aesthetics and manufacturing quality).

6. Communication (100 points)

The major motivation behind the TUM DeSal Challenge is to sensitize the general public to the problem of drinking water around the world and the importance of sustainable water treatment. It's therefore vital that the project ideas be presented to  average citizens in a plausible way. In addition, developers of innovative solutions must be in a position to convey the benefits to interested customers and investors.

This category evaluates the marketing and information strategies of the individual teams. Taken into account are originality, the relation to the issue of water scarcity as well as the comprehensibility and the design. In particular the design of the poster, the presentation of additional advertising material and the presentation in front of the audience run into the score. In addition, this part of the application is worth 25 points out of a total of 100 (75 for the degree of innovation and 25 for the application itself). When the participating teams are announced, the ranking is made public.

Exclusion Criteria (EC):

A team will be disqualified during the competition if one of the following exclusion criteria cannot be fulfilled:

Exclusion critera are an insufficient water quality (average salinity > 1000 ppm), water output quality has not potable water quality and excessive cost (> 2,000 €). If storage systems are used, identical charge levels before and after the competition must be verified. Plants must be designed so that unequivocal verification is possible and that inspection can be carried out at any time. As verification, the charge level is to be recorded throughout the entire competition final and presented to the jury at the end of the competition. Requisite measuring systems are to be integrated into the plant and requisite measuring devices provided by participating teams.

Plants may not be operated using fossil fuels (e.g. coal, gas or oil) or nuclear power. All forms of renewable energy, including water, wind, solar, geothermal, landfill gas, gas from purification plants, methane gas and biomass, are permissible. The following waste materials may also be used as energy sources: mixed municipal waste from private households, paper, paperboard, cardboard and textiles. The use of unpermissible energy sources will lead to disqualification.

Plants that can already be bought or are included in a commercial project for research and development will be excluded from the competition.

Entry TUM DeSal Challenge 2016






If you are interested in participating in the 2016 TUM DeSal Challenge,

we will be happy to send you all the information you need.





Detailed Information about the TUM DeSal Challenge to download.


pdf TUM DeSal Challenge Information Brochure



Detailed Information about the TUM DeSal Challenge and about the sponsoring possibilites to download.


 pdf TUM DeSal Sponsor Brochure


Competition Agreement TUM DeSal Challenge 2016


pdf Competition Agreement 2016 TUM DeSal Challenge (Version 2015-12-03)