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Catalysis and Biocatalysis


Name Email Phone Room
George  J. Antos gantos@nsf.gov (703) 292-4997  565.49  

To 2014 Applicants: Please note that NSF 13-1 explicitly states the requirements for addressing BOTH the Intellectual Merit (IM) and the Broader Impact (BI) review criteria for NSF proposals. In addition to addressing IM and BI separately in the Project Summary, a separate section on BI needs to be included in the Proposal Description (GPG: "The Project Description must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a discussion of the broader impacts of the proposed activities") .  Furthermore, when reporting results from Prior NSF Support, two separate sections addressing explicitly IM and BI need to be included within this portion of the proposal. (GPG: " ... a summary of the results of the completed work, including accomplishments, described in two separate sections, related to the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact activities supported by the award").

If any of these requirements (or any other requirement from NSF 13-1 document) are not met, the proposal will not pass the NSF compliance check and will be returned without review. We would like to avoid such unfortunate instances for our Division.


Apply to PD 14-1401 as follows:

For full proposals submitted via FastLane: standard Grant Proposal Guidelines apply.
For full proposals submitted via Grants.gov: NSF Grants.gov Application Guide; A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov Guidelines apply (Note: The NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide)


Full Proposal Window:  January 15, 2015 - February 19, 2015


Due to the ubiquitous presence of catalysis in the many aspects of goods and services impacting our lives, the Catalysis and Biocatalysis program has many potential directions for funding support.  Programs in this area encompass a blend of fundamental and innovative applied research drivers.  All programs are hypothesis-driven, and the experimental programs aimed at resolving the issues frequently combine a variety of approaches.  Chemical engineering and chemistry are intertwined.  Proposals which receive funding in this Program may include any number of the following broad scopes:

  • Catalyst Synthesis, Characterization, Behavior and Performance
  • Kinetics and Mechanisms of Key Catalytic Reactions
  • Catalysis at Surfaces or in Reactor Process Streams
  • Synthesis and Fabrication of Component Materials and Catalyst Composites
  • Modeling and Fundamental Studies of a Catalyst or Catalytic Process
  • Catalysts and Studies for Renewable Energy Systems.

These approaches apply equally to classical inorganic or carbon catalysts as well as to enzymatic or biocatalysts.  Specialized materials synthesis procedures may be necessary to provide active catalysts in any of the studies.  Applications-driven studies, such as Biomass conversion catalysis, Electrocatalysis and Photocatalysis, involving energy interconversion devices or systems employing catalysts are highly desired.

Most studies will focus on the catalysis of one or more chemical reactions with products including molecules used for fuels, energy sources, feedstocks, fine chemicals, bulk chemicals and specialized materials.  While proposals will be accepted in any of the above areas, national needs suggest heightened interest be given to proposals relating to processes and catalysts for conversions of biomass to fuels and chemicals, for development of renewable energy sources and for transition to green or environmentally benign products and processes.  Submissions investigating unique nanoparticle or biomimetic catalysis are welcome.

There is overlap in the energy topics with Energy for Sustainability Program, the Process and Reaction Engineering Program, and the Biotechnology, Biochemical, and Biomass Engineering Program.  Some guidelines may help you to decide which Program is the most logical for submission.  If the Proposal centers on the enzymatic or inorganic catalysis aspect of the biomass or photocatalysis or electrocatalysis energy conversion process, or uses catalysis as the main tool for interconversion, please submit to the Catalysis and Biocatalysis Program.  If the proposal focuses on biological and genetic aspects, consider the Biotechnology, Biochemical, and Biomass Engineering Program.  If the Proposal focuses on the reaction engineering aspects of the interconversion, submit to the Process and Reaction Engineering Program.  If the emphasis is on the renewable energy system as a whole, or the sustainable aspects of renewable energy, submit to the Energy for Sustainability Program.  Keep in mind that the involved program Directors will review the submissions and may transfer your proposal to give it the best review situation.

Projects are coordinated and may be jointly funded with other CBET and NSF divisional programs.  Proposals developing technology involving catalysis + separation or catalysis + reaction engineering or catalysis + renewable energy systems may be submitted to Catalysis and Biocatalysis requesting that joint funding be explored.  The Program has high interest in industry/university collaborations as outlined in the GOALI program.  EAGER proposals are recognized as useful vehicles to ultimately develop full proposals.  Support of undergraduates, workshops and travel are opportunities to further research goals.  CAREER proposals are enthusiastically received.  All of these activities have specific rules pertaining, and should be discussed with the Program Director prior to submission.

The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years.  The typical 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.  Small equipment proposals of less than $100,000 will also be considered and may be submitted during the annual submission window. 

Innovative proposals outside of these specific interest areas can 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.



Proposals should address the novelty and/or potentially transformative nature http://www.nsf.gov/about/transformative_research/faq.jsp of the concept being proposed, compared to previous work in the field.  Also, it is important to address why the proposed work is important in terms of engineering science, as well as to also project the potential impact on society and /or industry of success in the research.  The novelty or potentially transformative nature of the research should be included, as a minimum, in the Project Summary of each proposal.

Proposals submitted to this program are subject to the scope of the program's description and the availability of funds.  Decisions about particular proposals are often very difficult to make and factors other than reviewer comments and ratings enter into the decision.  Maintaining appropriate balance among subfields, the availability of other funding, the total amount of funds available to the program, and general Foundation policies and priorities are also important decision factors. 

Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program proposals are strongly encouraged.  Award duration is five years.  The submission deadline for Engineering CAREER proposals is in July every year.  Please see the following URL for more information:  http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503214

Proposals for Conferences, Workshops, and Supplements:  Proposals involving these activities should ideally be submitted during the regular annual proposal window.  PIs are strongly encouraged to discuss their requests with the Program Director.

Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) are also considered when appropriate.  Please note that proposals of these types must be discussed with the program director before submission.  Further details are available in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) download.

Unsolicited proposals received outside of the Announced Proposal Window dates will be returned without review.



Chemical, Biochemical, and Biotechnology Systems

What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program



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