NSF to award up to $13M for fundamental work on sustainable production of electricity and transportation fuels
07 April 2013
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a grants opportunity notice (PD-14-7644) for up to about $13 million in awards to fundamental research and education that will enable innovative processes for the sustainable production of electricity and transportation fuels. Processes for sustainable energy production must be environmentally benign, reduce greenhouse gas production, and utilize renewable resources.
The duration of unsolicited awards is typically three years. The average annual award size for the program is $100,000. Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review. Current interest areas in sustainable energy technologies are as follows:
Biomass Conversion, Biofuels & Bioenergy. Photosynthetic processes used by plants or algae use sunlight to convert atmospheric CO2 to energy-rich metabolites (carbohydrates, lipids, or hydrocarbons) which can be processed into transportation fuels. Fundamental research on innovative approaches for the intensification of biofuel and bioenergy processes is an emphasis area of this program.
Specific areas of interest include: biological, thermochemical, or thermocatalytic conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels beyond cellulosic ethanol; microbial fuel cells for direct production of electricity from renewable carbon sources; process-based, scalable approaches for the biological or bio-mimetic generation of electricity directly from sunlight; hydrogen production from autotrophic and heterotrophic microorganisms; hydrocarbons and lipids from autotrophic or heterotrophic microorganisms.
Photovoltaic Solar Energy. Solar photovoltaic (PV) devices harvest and convert sunlight directly to electricity. Fundamental research on innovative processes for the fabrication and theory-based characterization of future PV devices is an emphasis area of this program.
Specific areas of interest include: nano-enabled PV devices containing nanostructured semiconductors, plasmonic materials, photonic structures, or conducting polymers; earth-abundant and environmentally benign materials for photovoltaic devices; photocatalytic or photoelectrochemical processe for the splitting of water into H2 gas, or for the reduction of CO2 to liquid or gaseous fuels.
The generation of thermal energy by solar radiation is not an area supported by this program, but will be considered by the Thermal Transport Processes program within CBET (Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems).
Wind Energy. Fundamental engineering research, supported by modeling and simulation studies, that leads to new processes to efficiently harness wind energy for the production of electrical power is an interest area of this program. Research that focuses on materials science issues associated with wind energy systems will not be considered by this program. Projects involving fluid mechanics components as part of a systems approach to wind energy should be submitted to this program; projects focused on new computational fluid mechanics modeling should be submitted to the Fluid Dynamics program.
Advanced Batteries for Transportation. The focus is on high-energy density and high-power density batteries suitable for transportation applications. Advanced systems such as lithium-air, sodium-ion, as well as lithium-ion with new cathode chemistries are appropriate. Work on commercially available systems such as lead-acid and nickel-metal hydride will not be considered by this program.
Fuel-cell projects previously submitted to this program should be directed to other CBET programs, depending on emphasis: electrocatalysis (Catalysis and Biocatalysis); membranes (Separations and Bioseparations); systems (Process and Reaction Engineering).
Innovative proposals outside of these specific interest areas can be considered. However, prior to submission, NSF recommends that the PI contact the Program Director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review.
This is great but peanut $$ will not go very far towards effective research for future clean sustainable energy production and e-energy storage units.
A similar ($2B to $5B/year) project financed with (80+% of the $5+B/year) given the very rich Oil Cos would be more like what would be required to have visible impacts.
Posted by: HarveyD | 07 April 2013 at 07:44 AM
The idea is to have public/private partnerships since Bush spent $6 trillion in debt dollars on tax breaks and wars leaving us broke after the sub prime collapse.
The era of big government programs is over thanks to the Republicans. Not only did they stop social programs, but the debt has stopped research and many future looking efforts.
Posted by: SJC | 07 April 2013 at 08:00 AM
This important program needs to be financed at the rate of $100+B/year for the next 10+ years.
Tuning down the current Oil Wars (by a mere 10% to 20%) should be more than enough to finance this program.
Replacing 50+% of the planed F-35 and future F-45 with lower cost drones would be another source of funds.
Posted by: HarveyD | 07 April 2013 at 08:41 AM
One of the most ridiculous move Canada is about to make is buying F-35 for $45B to $50B, without going to open bidding process.
There are many lower cost airplanes available.
Canada could build decent planes (under license) for half that cost.
The same $$B spent of Hydro projects would create more jobs and produce clean sustainable e-power for the next 100++ years. After 2015/2020, a few more saved $$B could be used to promote the use of electrified vehicles.
Of course, Big Oil and Big Tar Sands would fight it.
Posted by: HarveyD | 07 April 2013 at 10:49 AM
HarveyD; The problem with hydro is that there just isn't much more water to dam up. All the logical sites for hydro power have already been built. Ontario is now looking at many smaller rivers to build small hydro for local use, but this is not going to make a major difference in available power.
Posted by: Roy_H | 07 April 2013 at 07:36 PM
This may be true for USA, Ontario and EU but there 1001++ places in Africa, Asia, Canada, South America where Hydro potential has not been developed.
Morocco as just started to build dams, water reservoirs, hydro plants + irrigation to improve farming alone the West side of the Atlas mountains.
Algeria could do the same on the East side.
Runoffs from the Himalayas mountains could be captured to produce huge volume of clean electricity + irrigation for improved farming over a wide area.
The same could be done in the Andes in South America, specially when coupled with wind mills to capture very high quality local winds and double the e-power production.
The worldwide hydro undeveloped potential is many times the current 400+ nuclear plants production.
Posted by: HarveyD | 08 April 2013 at 09:04 AM
Roy and Harvey,
Hydro combined with solar or wind allows for previously marginal hydro sites to be developed as both hydro and wind storage. Unfortunately Hydro is one government program and Wind is another government program, and money is ear marked for one or the other but not a combination of both. Besides, the real problem with hydro is that our leaders would have to actually do something. In the case of hydroelectric/wind projects, they would have to invoke emminent domain, and the weaklings we have now will never do that because their re-elections are the most important thing on the planet, not being effective leaders.
Posted by: Brotherkenny4 | 08 April 2013 at 12:04 PM
B4....it took Morocco many centuries to realize that runoffs from the Atlas mountains, when properly captured, can supply year round drinking water, irrigation water for the country's farms and lots of clean electricity. Many (1001+) places could do the same.
Many US North Eastern States will not buy our low cost ($0.05/kWh) clean Hydro electricity because the majority of their customers were lead to believe that 'c-l-e-a-n US coal' power plants produce cleaner e-energy. That forced us to install 1000+ wind mills...and...tell our neighbors that we will ONLY ship wind made electricity south of the border. We now have wind made and hydro made electrons in the same cables with separators installed at the border?
That seems to be an acceptable solution, at least until someone installs hydro made electrons detectors?
You don't even need pump stations to store surplus wind power. It is just a question of using 'wind power' for base load and adjustable Hydro power for peak loads.
For example, if (a) your minimum base load is 20,000 mega-watt and (b) your peak loads are 50,000+ mega-watt; you could install up the 20,000 mega-watt of wind power and use variable Hydro power to supply the rest.
On very windy cold winter days, wind may supply more power and hydro power production could be automatically reduced; saving precious water to meet higher peak demands whenever required. (note: hydro over equipment may be required in some places.) Higher winds are normally present during cold winter days when electricity demand is higher. What a good coincidence!
Operating hydro facilities with fuller water reservoir is more efficient. That would be another desirable side benefit.
The South Andes have both; high volume water run offs and continuous very high quality winds. Argentina and Chili could benefit but neither energy clean sources are exploited.
Posted by: HarveyD | 08 April 2013 at 02:53 PM
Why are my posts deleted?
Posted by: Roy_H | 08 April 2013 at 05:05 PM