Funding agency: 
National Science Foundation

The Catalysis program is part of the Chemical Process Systems cluster, which also includes 1) Electrochemical Systems; 2) Molecular Separations; and 3) Process Systems, Reaction Engineering, and Molecular Thermodynamics.

The goal of the Catalysis program is to advance research in catalytic engineering science and promote fundamental understanding and the development of catalytic materials and reactions that are of benefit to society.  Research in this program should focus on new basic understanding of catalytic materials and reactions, utilizing synthetic, theoretical, and experimental approaches.  Target applications include fuels, specialty and bulk chemicals, environmental catalysis, biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals, conversion of greenhouse gases, and generation of solar hydrogen, as well as efficient routes to energy utilization.

Heterogeneous catalysis represents the main thrust of the program.  Proposals related to both gas-solid and liquid-solid heterogeneous catalysis are welcome, as are proposals that incorporate concepts from homogeneous catalysis.  

Topic areas that are of particular interest include:

  • Renewable energy-related catalysis with applications in electrocatalysis, photocatalysis, and catalytic conversion of biomass-derived chemicals. Catalysis aimed at closing the carbon cycle (especially conversion of CO2, methane, and natural gas to fuels and chemical intermediates).
  • Catalytic alternatives to traditionally non-catalytic reaction processes, as well as new catalyst designs for established catalytic processes.   
  • Environmental catalysis (including energy-efficient and green routes to fuels and chemicals).
  • Catalytic remediation of feedstocks, process streams, products, or effluents.
  • Commercially scalable methods of catalyst synthesis.
  • New catalytic materials and architectures (especially those substituting earth-abundant materials for precious and noble metal catalysts).
  • Basic understanding of catalytic materials, reaction pathways, kinetics, and surface mechanisms.
  • Durable, poison-resistant, and easily regenerable catalyst formulations and designs.
  • Advances in tools for catalyst characterization and theoretical/computational catalysis.

Proposals that deal with new catalytic materials, especially materials for photocatalysts, with their inherent complexity,  will be enhanced by including plans to assess: 1) reproducibility and repeatability of data, 2) stability under realistic operating conditions including start-up and shut-down cycles, 3) performance relative to standard or well-known reference materials, and 4) quantitative, well-accepted measures of catalyst activity and catalytic efficiency, such as turnover frequencies and turnover numbers, quantum and/or photon yields of photocatalysts, and detailed product analyses and mass balances for the targeted application.

Proposals focused on biocatalytic processes, including proposals focusing on enzyme engineering, cellular and biomolecular processes, should now be submitted to the Cellular and Biochemical Engineeringprogram (CBET 1491).  Projects that are interdisciplinary in nature may be jointly funded with other CBET and NSF programs.

NOTE: If the proposal focuses on reaction engineering aspects of catalytic processes, submit to Process Systems, Reaction Engineering, and Molecular Thermodynamics program (CBET 1403). Respectively, program directors will review the submissions and may transfer your proposal to give it the best review situation.

Innovative proposals outside of these specific interest areas may be considered.  However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the PI contact the Program Director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review.

The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years. The typical award size for the program is around $100,000 per year with allowance for up to $150,000 per year for collaborative projects or those involving multiple investigators.  Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review.

Deadline: 
August 15, 2019
Funding type: 
Faculty