The US may be better prepared for future oil spills thanks to Elastec/American Marine’s grooved disc skimmer technology.

The group won first place today in the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge and was awarded a $1.4 million prize. Created by Wendy Schmidt after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the contest invited entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists to compete in developing the most efficient method to capture crude oil from the ocean surface.

The winning teams were those that developed a technology with an Oil Recovery Rate (ORR) above 2,500 gallons per minute and an Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE) over 70%. The Illinois-based oilfield service company Elastec/American Marine’s disc skimmer averaged an ORR of 4670 gallons per minute and an ORE of 89.5%, making it three times more efficient than the industry’s previous method.

At the awards ceremony in New York on Tuesday, Elastec team leader Don Johnson said his team’s technology was unique in that the vessel in the design is able to clean up oil under stormy water conditions.

NOFI, an oil spill control developer based in Norway, was awarded the $300,000 second place prize for their Current Buster Technology. This technology includes a V-shaped surface boom located between two vessels. The design cages the oils at end of the V and then uses a separator to remove it from the water.

Watch a video of another team at work trying to perfect their technology before results were announced.

Johnson told Breaking Energy that the competition was one step in helping the industry better prepare for future spills.

“There are no limits to what we can do,” Johnson told Breaking Energy.

NOFI team member Birgit Pederson also spoke highly of the competition. Earning second place, NOFI’s technology had an average ORR of 2,712 gallons per minute and an average ORE of 83.0%.

“The event shows it is possible to develop new ways to think about technology in order to clean up massive amounts of oil in the future,” she told Breaking Energy.

Created by President of The Schmidt Family Foundation Wendy Schmidt, the competition received over 350 pre-registered team submissions in the first phase. Of the submissions, the judges of the competition selected 10 teams from the United States, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands to compete for the $1.4 prize purse. The competition is co-sponsored by the X PRIZE Foundation, a leading nonprofit organization that focuses on solving the world’s Grand Challenges through arranging competitions.