SOURCE: X PRIZE Foundation

X PRIZE Foundation

May 23, 2011 08:00 ET

X PRIZE Foundation Announces Finalist Teams in the $1.4 Million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE

Ten Finalist Teams Selected by Panel of Experts to Move Forward in Competition to Advance Oil Spill Cleanup Technology and Innovation

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - May 23, 2011) - The X PRIZE Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization solving the world's Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, global incentivized competitions, today announced the 10 finalist teams that will move forward to the final phase of the $1.4 Million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. The 10 finalist teams were announced at the International Oil Spill Conference taking place from May 23-26 in Portland, OR. The competition is designed to inspire entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists worldwide to develop innovative, rapidly deployable, and highly efficient methods of capturing crude oil from the ocean surface. The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE was launched in July 2010 in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"These 10 teams have developed technology that can improve the efficiencies of oil spill cleanup to minimize the impact to the environment," said Wendy Schmidt, president of The Schmidt Family Foundation and title sponsor of the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. "The purpose of this challenge is to find real solutions to a dire problem, and I am hopeful that these teams will deliver the innovative oil spill cleanup technology we so desperately need."

During Phase I of the competition, teams across the globe submitted their ideas to clean up oil spills quickly and effectively. Judges evaluated proposals based on the following criteria:

  • technical approach and commercialization plan;
  • no negative environmental impact;
  • scalability of and ability to deploy technology;
  • cost and human labor of implementation; and
  • improvement of oil recovery rate and efficiency over today's baseline booms and skimmers.

The 10 finalist teams for the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE that will move forward to the competition's Phase II Field Testing are:

  • CRUCIAL, USA - Team leader Wally Landry and team members Richard Forbes, Debbie Alberto, and Jody Trapani work for Crucial, Inc., a worldwide distributor and manufacturer of oil spill response and environmental control products and equipment.
  • Elastec, USA - Team leader Don Johnson and team members Donnie Wilson, Jeff Cantrell, Stewart Ellis, Charles Storey, Brian Orr, and The Glosten Associates Inc. are part of Elastec, an oilfield service company with a reputation for innovation in machinery design.
  • Koseq, Netherlands - Team leader Tom Achterbegr and team member Gert Kampers are part of Koseq, a company that designs and produces oil recovery equipment.
  • Lamor, Finland - Team leader Jari Ahoranta and team members Fred Larsen, Rasmus Guldbrand, Rune Hogstrom, and John Kolonyi are part of Lamor, a company known for developing new concepts, technologies methods, and products for efficient oil spill response in various environments.
  • NOFI, Norway - Team leader Dag Nilsen and team members Øystein Woie, Tor Kristian Fagerheim, and Birgit Pedersen are representing NOFI, an oil spill control developer specializing in oil boom technology.
  • OilShaver, Norway - Team leader Ingvar Huse and team members Terje Hemnes, Jorunn Sanden, and Jarle Einar Gundersen have worked together to develop OilShaver based on their knowledge of trawl technologies for fisheries.
  • OilWhale, Finland - Team leader Markku Järvinen and team members Markku Lehtinen, Heikki Järvinen, Sampsa Veijalainen, and Aki Veijalainen have worked together to develop the OilWhale project using their environmental innovation and invention expertise.
  • PPR, USA - Team leader Rich Morgan and team members Kevin Kennedy and Bruce Thiffault are members of the marine business community and developed their concept, PPR, in response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
  • Voraxial, USA - Team leader Laura Di Bella and team member John Di Bella are part of Enviro Voraxial Technology, a company that developed their oil spill technologies in the aftermath of the Valdez Oil Spill.
  • Vor-Tek, USA - Team leader Ashley Day and team member Fred Giovannitti are environmentally conscious artists who developed a passive, environmentally safe system to remove hazardous particles, and now oil, from the ocean surface.

The finalist teams will advance to the competition's Phase II Field Testing, where they will demonstrate their ability to efficiently and rapidly clean up oil on the ocean surface. These technology demonstrations will determine the winners and will take place this summer at OHMSETT - TheNational Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility in New Jersey.

The team that demonstrates the ability to recover oil on the sea-water surface at the highest oil recovery rate (ORR) above 2,500 gallons per minute with an oil recovery efficiency (ORE) of greater than 70 percent will win the $1 million First Place Prize. Second place will win $300,000, and third place will win $100,000.

Shell Exploration and Production Company, a division of Shell Oil Company, is partnering with the X PRIZE Foundation to involve oil industry experts and other industry leaders to promote and bring the winning technology to market. As a Supporting Partner of the competition, Shell will provide direct financial support for the technical and scientific components of the competition.

"Shell is proud to partner with X PRIZE to provide technological and industry expertise to this critical initiative," said Dave Lawrence, executive vice president of Shell Exploration and Commercial, Upstream Americas. "As an industry leader in oil spill preparedness and response, Shell has been at the forefront of innovation and technological advancements to ensure that the most effective equipment is used to contain spills and protect the environment."

"The current relevance of the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE has motivated an impressive roster of teams that are dedicated to developing better oil spill cleanup technologies," said Cristin Dorgelo Lindsay, Vice President of Prize Operations for the X PRIZE Foundation. "The technologies being developed by these teams have shown tremendous promise to our panel of judges. We are confident that these groups will deliver innovative oil cleanup solutions at the final stage of competition."

The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE is part of the X PRIZE Foundation's Energy and Environment Prize Group presented by Cisco.

For additional details on the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE, visit

The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X 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. It is a one-year competition with head-to-head competitive demonstrations taking place at the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility (OHMSETT) in Leonardo, New Jersey, USA ( A $1 million prize will be awarded to the team that demonstrates the ability to recover oil on the sea surface at the highest oil recovery rate (ORR) and the highest Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE).

Founded in 1995, the X PRIZE Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization solving the world's Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. The X PRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four Prize Groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Exploration (Ocean and Deep Space). Prizes won include the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private, suborbital space flight; the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG energy equivalent (MPGe); and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE CHALLENGE for advanced rocket development. Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. For more information, visit

Wendy Schmidt is President of The Schmidt Family Foundation that strives 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 Schmidt, Wendy created the Schmidt Ocean Institute in 2009 to provide future opportunities aboard research vessels for urgent ocean studies. Wendy earned an M.A. in Journalism from The University of California at Berkeley, and a B.A. magna cum laude from Smith College. She serves on the boards of The Natural Resources Defense Council, The California Academy of Sciences, GRIST, and The Nantucket Dreamland Foundation.

Cisco, sponsor of the X PRIZE Foundation's Energy and Environment Prize Group, is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. This year celebrates 25 years of technology innovation, operational excellence and corporate social responsibility. Information about Cisco can be found at For ongoing news, please go to

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