The XPRIZE organization and the Schmidt Family Foundation have announced the winners of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, a $2 million competition designed to identify an accurate and affordable pH sensor technology for measuring ocean acidification.
Sunburst Sensors in Missoula, Montana, won both the $750,000 Accuracy Grand Prize, which is based on performance, and the $750,000 Affordability Grand Prize, which is based on cost and usability, for two new iterations of its previously developed commercial chemical sensors. The i-SAMI (Submersible Autonomous Moored Instrument) ("i" for inexpensive) and the t-SAMI ("t" for titanium) both use an autonomous spectrophotometric process that draws in an ocean water sample, mixes it with purified dyes, and shines a laser on the sample to determine its pH level. The i-SAMI has a projected per-unit manufacturing cost of less than $1,000, with accuracy comparable to the best existing commercial sensor, while the t-SAMI demonstrated accuracy as good as a fully equipped professional laboratory in both coastal and deep-sea environments up to three thousand meters.
Second-place prizes in the Affordability and Accuracy categories of $250,000 each were awarded to ANB Sensors from Cambridge, England, and Team DuraFET, which is based in Plymouth, Minnesota, and Monterey Bay, California.
"The ocean is in the midst of a silent crisis as a result of increasing levels of CO2, with a direct impact on our climate, marine creatures, and on communities that rely on shellfish, fisheries and coral reefs," said Wendy Schmidt, who co-founded the Schmidt Ocean Institute with her husband, Google executive chair Eric Schmidt, and serves as its vice president. "Over the past two years, we have seen impassioned and dedicated teams from around the world compete to bring us much-needed tools to accurately and reliably measure ocean pH and catalyze our ability to respond to ocean acidification. I am delighted that the innovations coming out of this competition will meet the needs of scientists helping us to understand better how connected our life is to the health of the ocean."