Abstract collage of science-related imagery

Environmental Convergence Opportunities in Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (ECO-CBET)

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See NSF 21-596 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.


Creating effective solutions to our most pressing environmental and sustainability challenges requires imaginative thinking - the kind that evolves when researchers from disparate fields, expertise, or perspectives fully immerse themselves in work toward a common goal. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), in their report "Environmental Engineering for the 21st Century: Addressing Grand Challenges," identified five critical challenges 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

The report further states, "The challenges provide focal points for evolving environmental engineering education, research, and practice toward increased contributions and a greater impact. Implementing this new model will require modifications in educational curriculum and creative approaches to foster interdisciplinary research on complex social and environmental problems." This solicitation will support projects that tackle these grand challenges using a convergent research model that seamlessly integrates fundamental knowledge and expertise from the fields of chemical process, transport, and biological science and engineering with that of the sustainability and environmental engineering fields. A brief review of convergence research concepts and models can be found on the NSF website - Convergence Reports and References.

Accordingly, the Environmental Convergence Opportunities in Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (ECO-CBET) solicitation will support fundamental research activities that confront vexing environmental engineering and sustainability problems by developing foundational knowledge underlying processes and mechanisms such that the design of innovative new materials, processes, and systems is possible. Projects should be compelling and reflect sustained, coordinated efforts from highly interdisciplinary research teams. A key objective of the solicitation is to encourage dialogue and tightly integrated collaborations wherein the chemical process systems, transport phenomena, and bioengineering communities engage with environmental engineering and sustainability experts to spark innovation and arrive at unanticipated solutions. Furthermore, training the future workforce to successfully engage in discipline-transcending research will support continued innovation toward surmounting the complex environmental and sustainability challenges facing our global community.

Process science and engineering, in the context of this solicitation, is broadly defined to include all programmatic interests of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Engineering's (ENG) Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET). These interests are outlined in the "core" program descriptions:

Chemical Process Systems (CPS) Cluster

·         Catalysis

·         Electrochemical Systems

·         Interfacial Engineering

·         Process Systems, Reaction Engineering, and Molecular Thermodynamics

Engineering Biology and Health (EBH) Cluster

·         - Biophotonics

·         - Biosensing

·         - Cellular and Biochemical Engineering

·         - Disability and Rehabilitation Engineering

·         - Engineering of Biomedical Systems

Environmental Engineering and Sustainability (EES) Cluster

·         - Environmental Engineering

·         - Environmental Sustainability

·         - Nanoscale Interactions

Transport Phenomena (TP) Cluster

·         - Combustion and Fire Systems

·         - Fluid Dynamics

·         - Particulate and Multiphase Processes

·         - Thermal Transport Processes

Teams should be constructed such that expertise is both complementary and distinct, drawing inspiration from the CBET-supported research communities (see above programmatic clusters). Creative collaborations between research communities that do not typically intersect are highly encouraged. At least three named investigators must be identified, each of whom must possess a unique perspective or skillset that motivates the proposed approach(es). Teams may also wish to consider, as appropriate, including individuals with expertise such as manufacturing, other sciences, especially social, behavioral, and economic sciences, or otherwise to extend the impact of the work.

While this solicitation is not restricted to a specific environmental engineering and sustainability research topic, the current solicitation emphasizes research topics related to: 1) greenhouse gas mitigation, 2) managing the nitrogen cycle, and 3) sustainable water purification and resource recovery systems. Assuming sufficient funding is provided in the NSF budget, it is anticipated this competition will continue annually. Research topic priorities are subject to change in subsequent years. Awards are expected to range from $1,500,000 to $1,700,000 over four years. Budgets should be commensurate with the scope of the proposed research. Pending the availability of funds, awards have the potential to be renewed once for a total of eight years of support. Renewal of awards will be subject to a competitive merit review process.

Program contacts

Christina Payne
eco-cbet@nsf.gov (703) 292-2895 ENG/CBET
Bruce K. Hamilton
eco-cbet@nsf.gov (703)292-7066 ENG/CBET
Robert McCabe
eco-cbet@nsf.gov (703) 292-4826 ENG/CBET
Steven W. Peretti
eco-cbet@nsf.gov (703) 292-7029
Brandi Schottel
eco-cbet@nsf.gov (703) 292-4798 OD/OIA
Shahab Shojaei-Zadeh
eco-cbet@nsf.gov (703) 292-8045 ENG/CBET
Catherine Walker
eco-cbet@nsf.gov (703) 292-7125 ENG/CBET

Awards made through this program

Browse projects funded by this program