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Electrochemical Systems

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See PD 23-7644 for the latest version.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Supports electrochemical or photochemical engineering research for the sustainable production of electricity, fuels, chemicals and other specialty and commodity products.


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

The goal of the Electrochemical Systems program is to support fundamental engineering science research that will enable innovative processes involving electrochemistry or photochemistry for the sustainable production of electricity, fuels, chemicals, and other specialty and commodity products. Processes utilizing electrochemistry or photochemistry for sustainable energy and chemical production must be scalable, environmentally benign, reduce greenhouse gas production, and utilize renewable resources. Research projects that stress fundamental understanding of phenomena that directly impact key barriers to improved system or component-level performance (for example, energy efficiency, product yield, process intensification) are encouraged. Processes for energy storage should address fundamental research barriers for renewable electricity storage applications, for transport propulsion, or for other applications that could have impact towards climate change mitigation. For projects concerning energy storage materials, proposals should involve testable hypotheses that involve device or component performance characteristics that are tied to fundamental understanding of transport, kinetics, or thermodynamics. Advanced chemistries beyond lithium-ion are encouraged. Proposed research on processes utilizing electrochemistry or photochemistry should be inspired by the need for economic and impactful conversion processes.

All proposal project descriptions should address how the proposed work, if successful, will improve process realization and economic feasibility and compare the proposed work against current state of the art. Highly integrated multidisciplinary projects are encouraged. When appropriate, collaborations with industrial technologists are encouraged through GOALI proposals. Collaborative projects with an integrated experimental and theoretical approach are also encouraged.

Topics of interest include electrochemical energy storage and electrochemical production/conversion systems. Radically new battery systems can move the U.S. more rapidly toward a more sustainable transportation future and to greater renewable electricity production penetration. High-energy density and high-power density batteries suitable for transportation and renewable energy storage applications are of primary interest. Advanced systems involving metal anodes, solid-state electrolytes, nonaqueous systems beyond lithium, aqueous systems beyond lithium, and multivalent chemistries are encouraged. Research activities focused on commercially available systems such as lead-acid and nickel-metal hydride batteries or lithium-ion batteries for medical or consumer electronics applications will not be considered by this program. Novel electrochemical and photochemical systems and processes for the production of chemicals and high-value products are encouraged. Emphasis is placed on those systems that improve process intensification and process modularization with accompanying benefits in energy efficiency and environmental footprint.

Additional fundamental science topics of interest to this program include the study of:

  • advanced fuel cell systems or fuel cell components for transportation propulsion or grid energy storage applications;
  • flow batteries for stationary energy storage applications including alternative redox chemistries (e.g., organic, inorganic, organometallic, macromolecular) and operating strategies (e.g., redox-mediation, suspensions); and
  • photocatalytic or photoelectrochemical processes and devices for the splitting of water into hydrogen gas or for the reduction of carbon dioxide to liquid or gaseous fuels. Projects that largely focus on developing fundamental understanding of the catalytic reaction mechanisms and structure-function relationships may be more appropriate as submissions to the CBET Catalysis program (CBET 1401).

Projects submitted to the Electrochemical Systems program are expected to develop fundamental, molecular-level understanding of the key chemical reaction and transport phenomena barriers to improved system-level performance. Innovative proposals outside of these specific interest areas may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the Principal Investigator contact the program director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review.

Referrals to other programs within NSF:

  • Proposals that focus on electric-field driven separations such as dielectrophoresis should be directed to the Interfacial Engineering program (CBET 1417).
  • Proposals that focus on thermal management of energy storage devices and systems should be submitted to the Thermal Transport Processes program (CBET 1406).
  • Proposals that focus on improving device and system performance of primarily organic, inorganic, and hybrid photovoltaic (PV) technologies, including perovskites, may be more appropriate as submissions to the Electronics, Photonics, and Magnetic Devices program in Engineering's Division of Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems (ECCS 1517). PV materials proposals that focus on the material science may be considered in the Division of Materials Research of the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
  • Proposals that focus on the generation of thermal energy by solar radiation should be directed to the Thermal Transport Processes program (CBET 1406).


Proposals should address the novelty and/or potentially transformative nature of the proposed work 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.

The duration of unsolicited proposal awards in CBET is generally up to three years.  Single-investigator award budgets typically include support for one graduate student (or equivalent) and up to one month of principal investigator time per year (awards for multiple investigator projects are typically larger). Proposal budgets that are much larger than typical should be discussed with the Program Director prior to submission. Proposers can view budget amounts and other information from recent awards made by this program via the “What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)” link towards the bottom of this page.

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. Learn more in the CAREER program description

Proposals for Conferences, Workshops, and Supplements: PIs are strongly encouraged to discuss their requests with the Program Director before submission of the proposal.

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. Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) proposals that integrate fundamental research with translational results and are consistent with the application areas of interest to each program are also encouraged.  Please note that RAPID, EAGER, and GOALI proposals can be submitted anytime during the year. Details about RAPID, EAGER, and GOALI are available in theProposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Part 1, Chapter II, Section E: Types of Proposals.

COMPLIANCE: Proposals which are not compliant with the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) will be returned without review.

Program contacts

Carole J. Read
cread@nsf.gov (703) 292-2418 ENG/CBET
Catherine Walker
cawalker@nsf.gov (703) 292-7125 ENG/CBET

Awards made through this program

Browse projects funded by this program
Map of recent awards made through this program