NOAA's Response and Restoration Blog

An inside look at the science of cleaning up and fixing the mess of marine pollution

The $1.4 Million Question: What’s the Best Way to Clean Up an Oil Spill?

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That’s the lucrative question the X PRIZE Foundation is asking and one of up to ten innovative teams may help answer this summer in the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE.

“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, in a press release [leaves this blog].

When the X PRIZE Foundation was searching for the competition’s judges and needed an expert on responding to oil spills, Dave Westerholm, Director of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration [leaves this blog], stepped up to the challenge.

“It is a great honor and is very exciting to be a part of this kind of project,” said Westerholm.  “At NOAA we pride ourselves on bringing scientific solutions to pollution and I look forward to working on this X CHALLENGE that will take innovative ideas and turn them into new methods of oil spill response and recovery.  The X CHALLENGE has already stimulated investment in research and development and inspired new ideas that I expect to benefit our economies, communities, and ecosystems in the future.”

Westerholm and the rest of the judging panel will be selecting winners for the $1.4 million in prizes after the competition’s top teams go head-to-head this summer at OHMSETT, the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility in New Jersey. The teams will each be trying to demonstrate that their new inventions and processes most efficiently and quickly recover oil from the surface of seawater.

Find out more about the Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE at [leaves this blog] and in this informational video from the X PRIZE Foundation:

Author: Office of Response and Restoration

The National Ocean Service's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) provides scientific solutions for marine pollution. A part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), OR&R is a center of expertise in preparing for, evaluating, and responding to threats to coastal environments. These threats could be oil and chemical spills, releases from hazardous waste sites, or marine debris.

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