X Prize Foundation Might Offer Multimillion Dollar Award for Gulf Oil Spill Solutions

X Prize, the group behind a contest to build the first private spacecraft, to solicit solutions for stopping the Gulf oil spill.

by / June 28, 2010

Photo: courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The X Prize Foundation announced Monday, June 28, that it will begin soliciting ideas for plugging the Deepwater Horizon oil well that's leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking Monday at the TEDxOilSpill conference in Washington, D.C., X Prize Foundation Vice President of Prize Development Francis Béland said the group was looking at the possibility of launching a competition aimed at putting an end to the disaster.

Various news reports claimed that the X Prize Foundation would offer prizes from $3 million to $10 million for a viable solution to stopping the spill. However, according to the foundation's Twitter feed, the competition has not been formally declared.

"Want to clarify that while at TEDxOilSpill we have not launched a new $10 Million X PRIZE or Challenge for oilspill [sic] clean up," adding later, "However, we are in the process of developing a multi-million dollar competition to help alleviate the effects of the oilspill in the Gulf."

The foundation also wrote that the competition will recognize the development of rapidly deployable methods that clean up crude oil on coastlines and in oceans.

The X Prize Foundation is best known for what was originally called the Ansari X Prize -- a $10 million competition open to anyone who could build a reusable, privately built craft capable of reaching outer space. The prize was eventually won by a suborbital craft called SpaceShipOne, built by aerospace engineer Burt Rutan and his company Scaled Composites.