A Million Reasons to Clean the Gulf

The US foundation that launched privatized space travel is now offering 1.4 million dollars to clean up oil spills.

The X Prize Foundation, in partnership with Wendy Schmidt, wife of Google chairman Eric, are putting up 1.4 million dollars in a year-long challenge to find new ways to clean up oil spills.

“With nearly 4,000 active drilling platforms in the Gulf alone, and more than 10,000 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 is another spill but ‘when,'” said Wendy Schmidt, who is said to be frustrated at watching “the messy, uncoordinated” attempts to mop up the BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Schmidt argues that “we need to come up with better ways to respond quickly and to minimize the harm we are causing to marine life, coastal wetlands and beaches, and to our livelihoods.”

The X Prize Foundation is a non-profit prize institute that specializes in designing and managing public competitions. They are most famous for the Ansari X Prize which was awarded in 2004 as a way to inspire research and development into technology for space exploration.

This latest X Prize will see teams submitting blueprints for spill-fighting technology which will then be evaluated by a panel of experts for feasibility, cost, how well they lend themselves to large scale deployment, efficiency and eco-friendliness. The field will be whittled down until in mid-2011 when there will be only a few teams of finalists.

Those teams will then put their inventions to the test in a competition at the National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility in New Jersey, competing against one another in an attempt to clean up oil-tainted water.

The winners will get at least one million dollars, with second and third place teams earning 300,000 and 100,000 dollars respectively.

Source: X Prize Foundation

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