More Incentive to Clean Up the Gulf: The X Prize Foundation Announces the Wendy Schmidt Oil Clean-up X Challenge

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Idea first floated at the TEDxOilSpill conference by Francis Belland of the X Prize Foundation and David Gallo of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute becomes real.

Since the BP gusher started spewing millions of gallons of crude oil and methane into the Gulf of Mexico more that three months ago, there have other high profile spills, including one of China’s largest, near the city of Dalian, that created a 170 mile slick. Closer to my home in Chicago, a pipeline break released over 800,000 gallons into western Michigan’s Kalamazoo river, which flows into Lake Michigan.

Last year, Australia took a one-two punch, first with a tanker spill that fouled 40 miles of Queensland’s coast, then an oil rig blow-out eerily similar to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In Nigeria, oil spills have become such an every day nightmare – an estimated 7,000 between 1970 and 2000 – that the tally is measured in units of “Exxon Valdez” (over 50 and still counting).

Clearly, if you drill, it will spill. Although the X Prize Foundation’s Oil Clean-up Challenge was developed in response to the mess in the Gulf, its importance goes far beyond our local oily waters. “The oil industry has focused on,”How do you drill deeper, further, more efficiently. Little money has actually been spent so far on “How do you clean it up properly?’, ” notes Peter Diamandis,  X Prize CEO.

With $1.4 million in incentive prizes provided by the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Challenge is designed to wrap up next summer, with demonstrations of the promising technologies at the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility (OHMSETT) in Leonardo, New Jersey.

RELATED READING:

“Introducing the Oil Clean-up Challenge,” by Wendy Schmidt, Huffington Post

“TEDxOilSpill: Surface Slicks, Deep Water Despair, Galaxies of Oil Platforms and Why We Really, Truly, Don’t Need Oil” by J.A. Ginsburg, TrackerNews Editor’s Blog

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