The goal of the Energy for Sustainability program is to support fundamental engineering 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.
Current topics of interest in sustainable energy technologies are:
- 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. Proposals that focus primarily on chemical reactor analysis related to biomass conversion should be submitted to Process and Reaction Engineering (CBET 1403), and proposals related to the combustion of biomass should be sent to Combustion and Fire Systems (CBET 1407). Proposals that focus on the fundamentals of catalysis or biocatalysis should be submitted to Catalysis and Biocatalysis (CBET 1401).
- Photovoltaic 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 H2gas, or for the reduction of CO2 to liquid or gaseous fuels. Proposals that focus on the fundamentals of photocatalysis should be submitted to Catalysis and Biocatalysis (CBET 1401). The generation of thermal energy by solar radiation is not an area supported by this program, but may be considered by Thermal Transport Processes (CBET 1406).
- 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: electrocatalysis (Catalysis and Biocatalysis, CBET 1401); membranes (Chemical and Biological Separations, CBET 1417); systems (Process and Reaction Engineering, CBET 1403).
- Wind Energy: This program no longer supports wind, wave, tidal, or hydrokinetic energy research. The proposer is encouraged to contact the program director for suggestions on a possible program home for proposal submission.
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