The X Prize Foundation, which spurs scientific and technological innovation with the greatest of incentives - a big pile of money - hopes we'll have a significantly improved method for cleaning oil by this time next year. The carrot: a cool million.
The foundation, which organised an ongoing, Google-sponsored $US30 million competition for landing a robot on the moon, among others, officially announced the Wendy Schmidt Oil Clean-Up X Challenge today, offering a total of $US1.4 million for "solutions that will speed the pace of cleaning up seawater surface oil resulting from spillage from ocean platforms, tankers, and other sources."
The competition begins on Monday, August 1, and teams' solutions will be tested at the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility in New Jersey next year. The team that manages to clean up crude with the highest oil recovery rate and the highest recovery efficiency will win $US1 million. X Prize is already in talks with companies like Shell to ensure that the winning solution gets implemented in the field as quickly as possible.
If you watched that clip of Bill Nye shooting down all of John Q. Public's oil clean-up ideas and thought "well those weren't really that clever anyway", you can preregister your team on the challenge's site right now. Good luck. [X Prize]