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Winners announced for Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE


October 12, 2011

The winners of the US$1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE were announced today (second-place Team NOFI's Current Buster Technology is pictured)

The winners of the US$1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE were announced today (second-place Team NOFI's Current Buster Technology is pictured)

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Last July, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the X PRIZE Foundation launched the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. As with previous X PRIZE competitions, this one was intended to encourage private sector scientific research, by offering a cash prize to whichever team could best meet a given challenge. In this case, teams had to demonstrate a system of their own making, that could recover oil from a sea water surface at the highest Oil Recovery Rate (ORR) above 2,500 US gallons (9,463.5 liters) per minute, with an Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE) of greater than 70 percent. Today, the winning teams were announced.

Taking the US$1million first prize was Team Elastec/American Marine, with an ORR of 4,670 gallons (17,678 liters) per minute and an ORE of 89.5 percent. The Illinois-based team used a unique grooved disc skimmer, which is designed to be pulled alongside a boat. Elastec/American Marine is reportedly one of the largest manufacturers of oil spill equipment in North America.

Norway's Team NOFI took the $300,000 second prize, managing an ORR of 2,712 gallons (10,266 liters) per minute and an ORE of 83 percent. NOFI's Current Buster Technology incorporates a flexible V-shaped surface boom, that is towed between two vessels or alongside one (via an overhead arm). Oil is corralled down to the end of the V, where a separator removes it from the water. The company claims that its system can collect and separate oil at speeds of up to 5 knots.

The $100,000 third prize was not awarded.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Can they please send one urgently to New Zealand?

The Mouse That Roared

Yeah, then maybe the media could focus on something positive, rather than the stupid locals that are cleaning the beach just to complain about the recontamination the next time the tide comes in.

But seriously, that would be a great PR win for Elastec/American Marine.

Our government would reimburse the costs for sure. And then buy a whole heap of equipment to shut up the doomsayers

Tony Smale

These oil cleanup devices probably won\'t work in the freezing waters and ice off of the Alaskan coast. The US Govt is granting permits for test drilling up there, with no thought to the dire consequences of a Deep Horizon event in that area. The next contest should test these devices for the clean up of thick, viscous, cold oil in a sea with 6 foot avg. wave height.


The article and the pictures do not do justice to the entries, especially the winning entry!

The main part of this challenge is to remove the oil from the water, not just to gather it up - the booms are easy to see, but extraction is the real challenge.

The Elastec solution has an rate that is 70% higher than the 2nd place entry, and an efficiency of nearly 90%. There\'s a video at the Elastec site, and the extraction rate and efficiency is amazing to watch. I\'m just blown away by the elegance of their solution.

Jeffrey Karter

Those booms look great in a placid swimming pool. But how do they handle the up-and-down motion of waves of varying sizes and directions?

Sterling Allan
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