The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge awarded the $1 million first prize to Elastec/American Marine, an Illinois company, for achieving three times the industry’s best oil recovery rate on the ocean surface. The two top prizes were awarded by the X Prize Foundation and the Schmidt Family Foundation for demonstrating rapidly deployable, highly efficient methods for cleaning up crude oil offshore. The $300,000 second-place prize went to NOFI, Tromso, Norway. There were more than 350 entry submissions from around the world. Launched in July 2010 in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge inspired entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists worldwide to develop innovative, rapidly deployable, and highly efficient methods of capturing crude oil from the ocean surface. The 10 finalist teams demonstrated the cleanup systems individually during rigorous field testing over a 10 week period in the summer. The teams were overseen by an experienced panel of judges. The technologies were demonstrated at the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility in Leonardo, NJ. It is the largest, outdoor, saltwater, wave/tow facility in North America. The winning teams were required to demonstrate the highest ability to recover oil on a sea-water surface at the highest oil-recovery rate above 2,500 gallons per minute with an oil-recovery efficiency greater than 70%. Elastic/American, which manufactures oil-spill and environmental equipment, achieved a recovery rate of 4,670 gallons per minute at an average recovery efficiency of 89.5%. The company reached more than three times the industry’s previous best oil recovery rate tested in controlled conditions, according to the challenge organizers. NOFI achieved a recovery rate of 2,712 gallons per minute at an efficiency of 83%. The other finalists were: Crucial, a Louisiana company; Koseq, Puttershoek, Netherlands; Lamor, Porvoo, Finland; OilShaver, Norway; OilWhale, Lielax, Finland; PPR, a Washington state company; Vor-Tek, California/Nevada; and Voraxial, a Florida company. “I am continually amazed how a relatively small but significant purse can inspire such a global response. We are grateful for the enormous efforts of all the participants. What these teams were able to accomplish is truly remarkable and will have a significant impact on future oil cleanup efforts and better protect our ocean ecosystems and economies,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and chief executive officer, X Prize Foundation. The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE is the fourth competition awarded by the X Prize Foundation. Shell provided technical, operational and scientific support and collaboration for the challenge. The challenge was 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. Founded in 1995, the X Prize Foundation motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. Wendy Schmidt is president of the Schmidt Family Foundation that works to advance the development of clean energy and support the wiser use of natural resources. She is founder of the Foundation’s 11th Hour Project and of Climate Central. Her other work, at ReMain Nantucket, focuses on generating a model for smart community downtown development on the island. With her husband, Eric, Wendy created the Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009.