Winning Teams Announced in the $1.4 Million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE

By Wendy Schmidt Oil Clean Up X Challenge, PRNE
Monday, October 10, 2011

PLAYA VISTA, California, and NEW YORK, October 11, 2011 -

Prizes Awarded for Demonstrating Rapidly-Deployable, Highly Efficient Methods for Cleaning Up Crude Oil on the Ocean Surface

First Place Team, Elastec/American Marine, Achieves Three Times the Industry’s Previous Best Oil Recovery Rate Tested in Controlled Conditions and Nearly Double the Competition’s Target

The X PRIZE Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, global incentivized competitions, and philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, who personally funded the prize purse, today awarded two winning teams of the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE.  The first place team, Elastec/American Marine, from Illinois, USA, and the second place team, NOFI from Tromso, Norway, emerged from an original field of more than 350 entry submissions from around the world.

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The teams were honored for their remarkable and historic achievement for cleaning up crude oil on the ocean’s surface.  The Awards Ceremony was attended by X PRIZE Foundation representatives; government and business leaders; oil industry executives; and representatives from the 10 finalist teams.   The winning teams were presented with a trophy and prize purse - $1 million for Elastec/American Marine and $300,000 for NOFI.  The $100,000 third place prize purse was not awarded.

Launched in July 2010 in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the competition inspired entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists worldwide to develop innovative, rapidly deployable, and highly efficient methods of capturing crude oil from the ocean surface.  The finalist teams demonstrated their cleanup systems individually during rigorous field testing over a 10-week period in the summer.  The teams were overseen by an experienced panel of judges as they demonstrated their technology’s ability to recover oil from the sea-water surface Ohmsett - the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility - in Leonardo, NJ.  Ohmsett is a Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) facility and is the largest outdoor saltwater wave/tow facility in North America.

“First, I am thankful to Wendy Schmidt for stepping up to underwrite this competition.  Second, congratulations to the winners and all the teams for their inspiration, teamwork, and technology,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman & CEO of X PRIZE Foundation.  ”I am continually amazed how a relatively small but significant purse can inspire such a global response. We are grateful for the enormous efforts of all the participants.  What these teams were able to accomplish is truly remarkable and will have a significant impact on future oil cleanup efforts and better protect our ocean ecosystems and economies.”

“Today we celebrate the teams and what they have achieved,” noted Wendy Schmidt, President of the Schmidt Family Foundation and Title Donor of the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. “I am proud to see how this competition drove the creation and demonstration of better, more efficient methods to cleaning up oil from the ocean surface.”

The winning teams were required to demonstrate the highest ability to recover oil on a 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.  The two winning teams were:

  • $1 Million First Place Winner: Team Elastec/American Marine from Illinois, USA
    Average ORR: 4670 gallons per minute
    Average ORE: 89.5% oil to water recovered
    Elastec/American Marine, a manufacturer of oil spill and environmental equipment known for innovation in machinery design, is a self-funded, privately held Midwest Corporation that has grown to become one of the largest manufacturers of oil spill equipment in North America.  The company, which started over 20 years ago as just an idea, has grown into a 100+ workforce that has gained a global reputation for its technological innovations.  Using local talent for nearly all of their fabrication, Elastec/American Marine is proof that small town values can transcend to a global market. In the competition, Elastec/American Marine reached more than 3 times the industry’s previous best oil recovery rate tested in controlled conditions.

  • $300,000 Second Place Winner: Team NOFI from Tromso,  Norway
    Average ORR: 2712 gallons per minute
    Average ORE: 83.0% oil to water recovered
    NOFI, an innovative industrial corporation located in Northern Norway, develops, manufactures, and sells its products and services around the world, primarily within the maritime sector.  NOFI develops and produces world-class boom technologies, and has a range of products that cover most aspects of oil spill control.  An ongoing focus on innovation and diversification as key strategies enables NOFI to offer quality products within several market areas. In the competition, despite contending with schedule delays caused by Hurricane Irene, NOFI reached more than two times the industry’s previous best oil recovery rate tested in controlled conditions.

Awards Ceremony participants included Wendy Schmidt, President, Schmidt Family Foundation and Title Donor of the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE; David Lawrence, Executive Vice President, Exploration and Commercial, Shell Upstream Americas; Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, CEO & Chairman, X PRIZE Foundation; Robert K. Weiss, Vice Chairman & President, X PRIZE Foundation; and Cristin Dorgelo Lindsay, Vice President, Prize Operations, X PRIZE Foundation.

Also present at today’s Awards Ceremony were representatives of all 10 finalist teams, including CRUCIAL of Louisiana, USA; Elastec/American Marine of Illinois, USA; Koseq of Puttershoek, Netherlands; Lamor of Porvoo, Finland; NOFI of Tromso, Norway; OilShaver of Norway; OilWhale of Lielax, Finland; PPR of Washington, USA; Vor-Tek of California/Nevada, USA; and Voraxial of Florida, USA.

The $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE is the fourth competition awarded by the X PRIZE Foundation, known worldwide as the leading organization for bringing about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity through incentivized competitions.

Shell, the only industry participant, in an effort to ensure that advancing technologies emerge and are introduced into the marketplace, provided support and collaboration to the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE.  As part of this ongoing association, Shell, as Supporting Partner to the competition, assisted with direct support for the technical, operational, and scientific components of the competition, creating a valued partnership within the X PRIZE Foundation.

This competition is part of the X PRIZE Foundation’s Energy & Environment Prize Group presented by Cisco.


The $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE is a 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 competitive field testing demonstrations at Ohmsett - the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility in Leonardo, New Jersey, USA.  The prize purse is awarded to the teams that demonstrate the ability to recover oil on the sea surface at the highest oil recovery rate with an oil recovery efficiency of more than 70 percent. For more information, visit


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); the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X CHALLENGE for advanced rocket development; and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE for highly effective oil spill cleanup methods. Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE and the $10 million Archon Genomics    X PRIZE presented by Medco.  For more information, visit


Wendy Schmidt is President of The Schmidt Family Foundation that works 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, 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 GRIST, The Nantucket Dreamland Foundation, The Natural Resources Defense Council, The California Academy of Sciences, and The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.


Cisco, (NASDAQ: CSCO), sponsor of the X PRIZE Foundation’s Energy & Environment Prize Group, is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate.  Cisco’s mission is to shape the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for its customers, employees, investors and ecosystem partners.  Information about Cisco can be found at  For ongoing news, go to

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