June 28th, 2010
01:56 PM ET

X Prize's multimillion-dollar challenge for Gulf oil solutions

An EPA worker takes photos of oil coming ashore in Orange Beach, Alabama.

The X Prize Foundation announced today that it is developing a multimillion-dollar “oil spill cleanup X challenge” to come up with solutions to cleaning up shorelines and open water fouled by oil leaking from the BP Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking at the TEDxOilSpill conference in Washington, Frances Beland of the X Prize Foundation asked the audience of 300, and many more watching the conference’s videostream, “What do you prize?” Beland told CNN after his appearance that the oil-related challenge will probably offer about $3 million in prize money for a cleanup solution.

The X Prize Foundation gained public attention for its X Prize of $10 million awarded for the development of private spacecraft, and the nonprofit foundation has created other prize challenges.

Beland said the foundation wanted to come up with a prize to find a solution to capping the well but found it was unable to obtain enough data to design such a challenge, so it opted to focus on the cleanup.

“We’re going to launch a prize for cleanup, and we’re going to kick ass,” he said, to applause.

Beland said 35,000 solutions to the Gulf crisis have been proposed to BP, the government and other organizations, including the X Prize Foundation.

“Every time we have a challenge, you know who wins? It’s not someone from the industry, it’s a maverick, a freethinker.”

soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. Christopher

    A British firm may end up winning this prize. Here's the piece (with a video segment) that talks about how this firm has repurposed some British military technology to address the oil spill in the gulf. They plan on partnering with local gulf fishermen to equip boats with their technology and anticipate that after their launch on July 4th, that it will take about 7 weeks for them to get 100% of the oil that is on the surface down to 1.5 meters cleaned up. Pretty amazing.


    June 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Will

    It is unbelievable that "nobody" can figure out a way to stop the leak, This is actually a solvable problem but because the Obama administration is so extremely incompetent, the oil continues to pour. I have no doubt that had the Obama administration acted in a functional manner, that the leak would have been plugged several weeks ago. Although I made the error of voting for Mr. Obama , I shall not make that mistake again.

    June 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Peter

    One low-yield nuclear weapon to the site of the leak will seal her up nice and permanently.

    You can wire the millions to my account.

    thank you.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Eco

    One of the best solutions, besides high, and low tech, is to proactively engage the public with incentives, discounts, education, grants, etc from local government, BP, Federal Government to clean up the spill by residents, schools, organizations, low security prisons, perhaps Coast Guard, National Guard to coordinate efforts, and whoever should and will be willing to help to clean up our shores.
    I assume the majority of the spill would be under control within reasonable period of time , and complitted in subsequent seasons without heavy burden on Eco system, local, national, international communities.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Troll and Grammar Police from Canada

    I don't know why no one on the earth has thought of putting a water purification plant someonewhere in the gulf to clean the water,...over 10 years the water will become very clean. We can have these everywhere around the world to clean our oceans. This will create jobs as well.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Silver bullet

    More ideas, less solutions, too much time to screen these ideas. The well will be empty before we find the good one.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Troll and Grammar Police from Canada

    We need to start clonning the animals that died to increase their numbers, animals are at the end of this , its our time to help their population. Or maybe inject these animals with synthetic cells that are programmed to help resist the oil within their body.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    I suggest we get the BP board of directors some gloves and a pail. Don't stop until its done. Including the recovery of all plants and animals.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David

    The prize is for the cleanup not stopping the leak; this plan is already clear, compliment mother natures natural processes of eating these hydrocarbons and oxygenation by introducing algae, etc. Borrow some forest fire planes and spread at mass. Diverting the Mississippi is also interesting and would dramatically speed up the recovery.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Troll and Grammar Police from Canada

    Low-yield nuclear bomb? Well what about a laser that shoots out pure energy....we can aim it at the hole and instantly seal it up without an explosion. What about a small Anti-Matter bomb? If you do a little research , youll find there many types of nuclear weapons. I don't think a anti matter bomb carries the long term effects of radiation to the enviroment.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tim Greer

    What can you do? Everyone wants to be a know-it-all and be right and express their biased opinions about people, corporations, governments, and so on. People will argue and blame anything based completely on ignorant, biased opinions that have no truth or foundation to them at all. Obviously a large leak/gusher (I never agreed with the use of the term "spill" for this) and people are going to be upset and angry and want to know why it hasn't been stopped. It SEEMS like someone should have been able to do something and with all of the biased news outlets (such as Fox News), people get misinformation and now fiction becomes fact to people, to such a degree that they'll argue it without knowing the details or facts, and start calling people "morons". Enough already.

    This is why we don't have solutions. No one listens, people just argue and blame. It's gone from being "American arrogance" to Obama not taking action and not allowing help from a foreign government by allowing non US vessels into the area, to whatever else. All of it untrue. Consider how viable the help offered really is, and if it's being done already. There are also fine details in this to a degree, where they are trying to force or ensure BP is responsible and the one's doing it. No one's rejecting any realistic and viable option, even if they aren't using the best one's in the right order.

    When it comes to corporations and government (any corporation or government), it's frustrating and angering to not have any say or control and watch things like this be an ongoing problem and to have no input. That's just how it goes. Hopefully there will be a solution. The XPrize stuff is a freaking joke though. It's like their manned space flight prize; only people with a lot of money and clout are going to get a chance to help or do something, not any average Joe type of person. It's all pointless, and none of us posting here (right or wrong, wise or unwise) are going to be able to change it, or help with this problem. Even if it wasn't a large scale problem, but the fact that it's so massive means we're just wasting energy typing and debating or arguing about it. Save yourself time and grief and don't get so worked up about it and move onto a more positive or happier topic.

    June 28, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tim Greer

    Cloning animals, diverting the Mississippi river, using low-yield nuclear bombs? Holy smokes! You people are suggesting solutions that are greater than the problem. Incidentally, what are you people smoking?

    June 28, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dame

    Judging from the responses here, it would appear that we are too plain mean and ugly to each other to come up with a solution. Too busy trying to appear smarter than the next, and demean the next person with a different opinion, to work together....and it will take us working together to solve this, not one person's solution.

    That being said, I often thought about building a huge, strong, flexible tube, with a metal end that could be welded to the spill. The other end of the this tube would then have over 40 ends to it (something like a 40 leg octopus), each with a valve and connected to a tanker. As one tanker fills up, the valve is shut, and a new tanker takes its place and attaches to one of the connections. The oil flows through this device and to each tanker. Temporary solution, but it stops the oil, and keeps it for use (might as well not waste it).

    But perhaps someone can build on that idea, and improve upon it. Let's work together.

    June 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. angonthecoast

    how about looking at leak from medical standpoint: perhaps like how a heart surgeon is able to stop a heart from gushing blood. i think all these idea submissions are sign of unified desired to see this stopped and begin healing process. anyway: keeping hope alive that this will b ok... 🙁

    June 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Phil

    Jeff has a good idea of the pipe insertion. Because of the pressure ,install pivoting grips about every 6ft or so that grip the side of the hole to keep it taunt. Somewhat like the chinese finger toy. As the flow would try to force the pipe out , the grips would tighten more. Then forcing a sealant cement would effectively stop the flow, as well as securing the grips for no slippage. If there is a prize give it to the poor souls that will suffer for years to come.

    June 28, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
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