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Winning Teams Announced In The $1.4 Million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE

PLAYA VISTA, Calif., and NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 minuteAverage ORE: 89.5% oil to water recoveredElastec/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 minuteAverage ORE: 83.0% oil to water recoveredNOFI, 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.

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