The National Science Foundation Announces Funding for Environmental Convergence Opportunities

Dec 2, 2019

by ASME.org

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced its plan to fund a program entitled “Environmental Convergence Opportunities in Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (ECO-CBET).” This program will likely be a continuing grant with an anticipated budget of $8.5 million and will be awarded to 5-7 project teams, depending upon availability of funds.

In a recent report, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) identified five critical challenges that we must address as a society:

  • Sustainably supply food, water, and energy
  • Curb climate change and adapt to its impacts
  • Design a future without pollution and waste
  • Create efficient, healthy, and resilient cities
  • Foster informed decisions and actions

Creating solutions to these challenges will require collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches from a variety of fields and perspectives. A key objective of the ECO-CBET grant program is to encourage conversations and robust collaborations amongst the chemical process, transport phenomena, bioengineering, and environmental and sustainability research communities in order to develop long-lasting solutions to these critical societal challenges. Submitted proposals should describe a clear vision for how the project outcomes will promote or facilitate solutions to an environmental challenge; as an innovative process design that can be applied at scale; or as a controllable, engineered system that can be deployed in the field. Proposals that address one of the two strategic challenges described below are particularly encouraged (though not required) for this competition. However, any creative and transformative ideas that couple the process, bioengineering, and transport sciences to other environmental and sustainability challenges, as described above, are welcome.

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation – Transformative, high-risk/high-reward approaches are sought to economically and sustainably capture, contain, and/or convert greenhouse gases, such as CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons, from industrial process streams or directly from air.

Managing the Nitrogen Cycle – Transformative, high-risk/high-reward approaches are sought to prevent runoff and leaching of nitrates into drinking water reservoirs or into the ecosystems of receiving waters; to prevent denitrification of soil nitrogen by microorganisms and release of nitrous oxide (N2O) into the atmosphere; or to economically and more sustainably synthesize ammonia than current processes.

The primary goals of this program are to encourage new ways of thinking about environmental problems through atypical scientific collaborations; to integrate fundamental chemical process, transport, and bioengineering science with environmental engineering and sustainability research; and to train a future workforce to develop and apply fundamental knowledge and approaches to solve environmental and sustainability problems.

Preliminary proposals are due February 12, 2020.

For further information and to apply for this program, click here: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2020/nsf20517/nsf20517.htm?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

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