July 30, 2010

X Prize Foundation Announces Oil Cleanup Challenge

The X Prize Foundation announced its newest competition Thursday: a $1.4 million oil clean-up challenge to find better ways to address environmental disasters.

The foundation, best known for launching the private spaceflight industry, announced the competition during a press conference in Washington DC.

The challenge is "a $1.4 Million competition designed to inspire a new generation of innovative solutions that will speed the pace of cleaning up seawater surface oil resulting from spillage from ocean platforms, tankers, and other sources," the foundation said.

The challenge is the X Prize foundation's sixth "major incentive competition" to inventors and entrepreneurs.

Research teams have until April 2011 to sign up for the competition.

The foundation said its central goal is to "bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity."

The competition, dubbed the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge, is named after the president of the Schmidt Family Foundation, who provided the funding for the awards.

"The goal of the... 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," BBC News quoted the foundation as saying.

After receiving initial submissions, a panel of judges will choose up to 10 teams to compete in a head-to-head demonstration of their ability to quickly clean up oil on the ocean surface.

The competition will take place at a New Jersey-based test facility, and the team that best demonstrates the ability to recover oil "at the highest rate and with the highest efficiency" will be awarded the $1 million grand prize.

Second and third place winners will be awarded $300,000 and $100,000, respectively.

Additional information about the contest can be viewed at