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EPA soliciting applications for interdisciplinary materials design centers applying life cycle perspective

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications for interdisciplinary centers focused on the application of a life cycle perspective towards the development of materials. The aim of the center will be to develop methodologies and practices for materials design which applies a holistic perspective.

This RFA seeks applications to fund two Centers for Material Life Cycle Safety that, through the integration of engineering and physical and social science research, will develop a systems-based approach to material design. The Centers will focus on the design and development of materials that apply sustainability principles for chemistry and engineering across all stages of the material’s life cycle. This holistic approach to material design and development will direct researchers to avoid and eliminate the contributions within the life cycle that most significantly influence their potential impacts.

It is intended these centers develop approaches that apply a life-cycle perspective for the advancement of sustainability. The approaches developed by the centers should apply to as broad a range as possible of existing materials with adaptability for incorporation of emerging materials. The centers should draw together various scientific disciplines to develop their approaches, including but not limited to the following: engineering, chemistry, material science, social science, and physics.

The Centers for Material Life Cycle Safety should consider the complete life cycle for a material from the generation and acquisition of raw materials through its synthesis and manufacture, use and including end of life (recycle/reuse/disposal). The goal is to advance the sustainability of these materials by devising strategies and methodologies that will enable efficient design, resource consumption, minimal and non-toxic solvent usage, energy usage, and minimize and eliminate adverse impacts on human health and the environment, and eliminate the generation of pollutants. Additionally, the life cycle perspective will allow for not unknowingly creating adverse outcomes within the life cycle or a shifting of burden to another stage.


The term “materials” broadly refers to any and all types of chemicals, including individual chemicals, compounds, mixtures of compounds, or products. Such examples of materials include a discreet molecule, a polymer, a nanomaterial or a biochemical.

The life cycle of a material, for this solicitation, follows the “cradle to grave” continuum. This approach considers the five stages of a life cycle: (1) raw material acquisition; (2) production; (3) use; (4) reuse and redesign; and (5) end-of-life management.

EPA anticipates up to 2 awards of up to $5 million each, with a maximum duration of 4 years. Cost-sharing is not required.

EPA expects to issue a separate, but complementary, solicitation for up to approximately two $5 million Centers focused on developing sustainable molecular design approaches that enhance scientific knowledge in the area of hazard identification associated with specific chemical or compound properties, with the end result of eliminating any manifestation of these hazards. EPA will encourage awardees under both solicitations to collaborate, as appropriate.


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