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July 29, 2010

X-Prize launches $1.4 million oil spill cleanup challenge

The X Prize Foundation today announced the launch of the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge.

The goal of the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge is to inspire entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists worldwide to develop innovative, rapidly deployable, and highly efficient methods of capturing crude oil from the ocean surface. In making the announcement, the X Prize Foundation hopes to attract philanthropic and venture capital to support development of this important capability and provide a global platform where new technologies can be competed head-to-head, and the best approaches demonstrated, to prepare for future catastrophes.

The $1.4 million challenge was announced in Washington, D.C., by X PRIZE Chairman Peter H. Diamandis together with Wendy Schmidt, who personally funded the $1.4 million prize purse. Wendy Schmidt is president of The Schmidt Family Foundation, and co-founder, with her husband Eric, of the Schmidt Marine Science Research Institute. Other speakers included Philippe Cousteau, son of Jan and Philippe Cousteau Sr., and grandson of Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau and co-founder and CEO of EarthEcho International; and Dr. Dave Gallo, Ph.D., Director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

"The devastating impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill will last for years and it is inevitable that future spills will occur - both from wells and from transport tankers," stated Dr. Diamandis. "To be prepared to safeguard oceans and shores, the X Prize Foundation is announcing the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge to find the most effective and environmentally safe solutions for capturing oil from all spills at the spill site, thus limiting their impacts and protecting our oceans, shores, marshes, and, importantly, the health and well-being of the people and wildlife which live and thrive in these communities."

"With more than ten thousand ocean oil platforms across the globe, and millions of barrels of oil being transported every day by tankers, it's not a question of 'if' there will be another oil spill, but 'when,'" stated Wendy Schmidt. "We need to come up with better solutions to capture oil on the surface, to minimize the harm these spills are causing to marine life, coastal wetlands, and beaches, and to our livelihoods -- a harm that can last for generations. This is why I am personally funding this X Challeng: to inspire innovators around the world -- and all those who want to help address what has happened in the Gulf -- to focus on solutions to an ongoing, systemic problem."

Competition Rules

The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge has two phases:

Phase I. From August 2010 - April 2011, teams from around the world are invited to register for this competition, and to submit their approach to clean up oil slicks created by spills or leaks from ships or tankers (e.g. Exxon Valdez), land drainage, waste disposal, or oil platform spill (e.g. Deepwater Horizon). An expert panel of judges from industry and academia will evaluate all of the proposals along the following criteria:

Technical approach and commercialization plan

No negative environmental impact

Scalability of and ability to deploy technology; cost and human labor of implementation

Improvement of technology over today's baseline booms and skimmers

Phase II. The judges will select up to 10 of the top teams to demonstrate their ability to efficiently and rapidly clean up oil on the ocean surface in a head-to-head competition. These proofs of capability, which will determine the winner, will take place at the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility (OHSMETT) in New Jersey. The top team that demonstrates the ability to recover oil on the sea-water surface at the highest oil recovery rate (ORR) and recovery efficiency (RE) will win the $1 million Grand Purse. Second place will win $300,000 and third place will win $100,000 in purses.

More details HERE


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