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NSF to award $13M for fundamental engineering research on production of electricity and fuels

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (PD 15-7644) for the award of an estimated $13,093,000 to support fundamental engineering research that will enable innovative processes for the sustainable production (and storage) of electricity and fuels.

Processes for sustainable energy production must be environmentally benign, reduce greenhouse gas production, and utilize renewable resources. Current topics of interest include:

  • Biomass Conversion, Biofuels & Bioenergy. Fundamental research on innovative approaches that lead to the intensification of biofuel and bioenergy processes is an emphasis area of this program. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to: biological, thermochemical, or thermocatalytic routes for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to advanced biofuels beyond cellulosic ethanol; microbial fuel cells for direct production of electricity from renewable carbon sources; hydrogen production from autotrophic or heterotrophic microorganisms; hydrocarbons and lipids from phototrophic or heterotrophic microorganisms.

  • Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Energy. 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, but are not limited to: 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 processes for the splitting of water into H2 gas, or for the reduction of CO2 to liquid or gaseous fuels.

  • Advanced Batteries for Transportation and Renewable Energy Storage. Radically new battery systems or breakthroughs based on existing systems can move the US more rapidly toward a more sustainable transportation future. The focus is on high-energy density and high-power density batteries suitable for transportation and renewable energy storage applications. Advanced systems such as lithium-air, sodium-ion, as well as lithium-ion electrochemical energy storage are appropriate. Work on commercially available systems such as lead-acid and nickel-metal hydride batteries will not be considered by this program. Fuel-cell related proposals should be directed to other CBET programs, depending on emphasis.

The duration of unsolicited awards is typically three years. The typical award size for the program is $100,000 per year. Closing date for applications is 20 October 2015.


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