SOURCE: X PRIZE Foundation

X PRIZE Foundation

April 20, 2011 08:00 ET

X PRIZE Foundation Announces Official Judges in the $1.4 Million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE

Panel of Industry Experts Will Select Top Teams to Advance in Competition Targeting Oil Spill Cleanup Technology and Innovation

PLAYA VISTA, CA--(Marketwire - Apr 20, 2011) - The X PRIZE Foundation today announced its roster of judges for the $1.4 Million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. As the one year anniversary (April 20) of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill reminds us of last year's tragedy, the X CHALLENGE's goal of inspiring entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists worldwide to develop innovative, rapidly deployable, and highly efficient methods of capturing crude oil from the ocean surface remains more relevant and timely than ever.

"This X CHALLENGE was developed as a result of the increasing awareness and disappointment at the inefficiency of our oil spill cleanup capabilities," said Wendy Schmidt, President of The Schmidt Family Foundation and title sponsor of the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. "As we look back on the last year and remember the disaster of the Gulf oil spill, I'm more optimistic than ever that this X CHALLENGE will help inspire new and innovative oil spill technologies that will allow us to respond faster and minimize the environmental impact of any future spills."

"The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE has received an overwhelming response since the competition was first announced and we're amazed by the amount of teams and individuals who have expressed an interest in competing, particularly given the current relevance of oil spill cleanup technologies," said Francis Beland, Vice President of Prize Development at the X PRIZE Foundation. "Our slate of judges brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to this competition. We're honored to have such an elite group of individuals working with us to determine our final group of competitors and to be on-hand to judge the testing at OHMSETT this summer."

The members of the judging panel are experts in fields such as oceanography and the oil industry, and include:

  • John J. Dec, retired United States Coast Guard hazardous substance spill response professional;
  • Eugene Johnson, retired United States Coast Guard Captain and former Chief of Marine Safety for the Fifth U.S. Coast Guard District;
  • Hung Nguyen, of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE);
  • Skip Przelomski, Vice President and Senior Technical Advisor of the Clean Caribbean & Americas (CCA);
  • Dennis Takahashi-Kelso, Director of Science and Policy Direction for Ocean Conservancy;
  • Donald A. Toenshoff, Jr., Executive Vice President of the Marine Spill Response Corporation;
  • Peter K. Velez, Global Emergency Response Manager for Shell International Exploration and Production;
  • and Dave Westerholm, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Response and Restoration.

During Phase I of the competition, teams from around the world submitted their ideas to clean up oil slicks created by spills or leaks from ships or tankers, land drainage, waste disposal, or oil platform spill. Judges are currently evaluating all submitted 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 the improvement of technology over today's baseline booms and skimmers.

In Phase II, the judges will select up to 10 top teams to demonstrate their ability to efficiently and rapidly clean up oil on the ocean surface in a head-to-head competition. These proofs of capability, which will determine the winner, will take place this summer at OHMSETT - TheNational Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility in New Jersey. The top 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% will win the $1 million Grand Purse. Second place will win $300,000 and third place will win $100,000.

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

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