Locally Invented Oil Recovery Rig Wins Big Award

Oil spill recovery equipment designed by Victoria Broje for her 2006 PhD dissertation at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management has evolved into the winner of this year’s million-dollar X Challenge contest. Broje’s design added grooves to the surface of conventional rotating drum skimmers, increasing surface area. The company that bought the patent for Broje’s skimmer, Elastec/American Marine, further increased its efficiency by trading the rotating drum for 16 smaller ones lined up along an axle. The X Challenge was founded by Wendy Schmidt, wife of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, after she witnessed the futility of cleanup efforts in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.

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