Called the Energy and Environment suite of prizes, the organization hopes the new competitions will get things moving toward solution in the difficult fields of sustainable and ecologically sound energy development.
Part of the reason for the use of prizes to stimulate development is that the foundation feels these areas are moving too slowly. Another is that there is tremendous potential to advance the areas sponsored, but they need a kick-start.
Biofuels are the target of the most recently announced X Prize, the first of the new suite of competitions. The competition will start later this year, and will be worth at least $10 million. Ethanol - a fuel one might expect to feature prominently in the challenge - or any fuel that is derived from agricultural or food stocks is not allowed to enter the contest, reports Business Week. Cellulosic ethanol derived from non-food sources would be allowed under the rule.
Other rules in the race to find a sustainable and effective biofuel include that the plant must be small-scale and easily shipped.
More prizes are coming over the next few months as the X Prize Foundation works to flesh out its mission of sponsoring ecologically sound and technologically innovative solutions to the world's major problems.