Removing oil from the sea.



Removing oil from the sea.

$1.4 Million

Prize Purse

The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE was 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. The one-year competition culminated in the fall of 2011, with competitive demonstrations taking place at OHMSETT, the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility. 

Prize Purse

Total Purse $1.4 million

  • 1st Place: $1 million
  • 2nd Place: $300,000
  • 3rd Place: $100,000

Summary Video

The Grand Challenge

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon crisis, The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE was designed to inspire innovative solutions to speed the pace of seawater surface oil recovery resulting from platform, tanker and other industry spillage. Demonstration of rapidly-deployable, highly efficient mechanical systems for cleaning up oil on the ocean surface.

How to Win

The Winning Team Will…

Demonstrate the ability to recover oil on the sea surface at the highest Oil Recovery Rate (ORR) of over 2,500 GPM with an Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE) of more than 70%.


27 Registered Teams
10 Finalists


  • • Two teams exceeded the audacious prize requirements in this competition and several other teams came very close:
  • o First place $1 Million winner Elastec / American Marine with their achievement of 4670 gpm (at 89.5% efficiency), reached more than 3 times the industry’s previous best oil recovery rate tested in controlled conditions.
  • o Second place $300,000 winner NOFI with their achievement of 2712 gpm (at 83% efficiency), reached more than two times the industry’s previous best oil recovery rate tested in controlled conditions.
  • • The XPRIZE Foundation and Wendy Schmidt agreed to redirect the $100K from the un-awarded third place prize purse to the XPRIZE Foundation’s development of future competitions that would address one of the many challenges still facing the protection of our oceans, coastlines, marine life, and coastal economies, such as oil spill cleanup.
  • • The winning team, Elastec, released a scaled version of their winning technology into the marketplace. 

Prize Activity