The Thermal Transport Processes program is part of the Transport Phenomena cluster, which also includes 1) the Combustion and Fire Systems program; 2) the Fluid Dynamics program; and 3) the Particulate and Multiphase Processes program.
The Thermal Transport Processes program supports engineering research projects that lay the foundation for new advances in thermal transport phenomena. These projects should either develop new fundamental knowledge or combine existing knowledge in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat and mass transfer to probe new areas of innovation in thermal transport processes. The program seeks transformative projects with the potential for improving basic understanding, predictability and application of thermal transport processes. Projects should articulate the contribution(s) to the fundamental knowledge supporting thermal transport processes and state clearly the potential application(s) impact when appropriate. Projects that combine analytical, experimental and numerical efforts, geared toward understanding, modeling and predicting thermal phenomena, are of great interest. Collaborative and interdisciplinary proposals for which the main contribution is in thermal transport fundamentals are also encouraged. Emphasis is placed on research that demonstrates how thermal transport phenomena affect the existence, behavior and dynamics of components and systems. Priority is given to insightful investigations of fundamental problems with clearly defined economic, environmental and societal impacts.
Some specific areas of interest include:
- Convection/diffusion/radiation: Heat and mass transport in complex structures and surfaces; thermal-related turbulence; development of form-function relationships in thermal processes; thermal design methodology; phonon transport and interactions between energy carriers; radiation amplification, controlling, and extinction; interfacial gas-solid and liquid-solid thermal and species-driven phenomena.
- Thermodynamics: Thermal-electric energy conversion; battery-related thermal issues; power generation and propulsion; phase-change and supercritical energy cycles; non-equilibrium thermal processes.
- Biological heat and mass transport: Biomimicry; intra- and extra-cellular heat and mass transport; freeze resistance mechanisms; thermotherapy and thermoregulation; organ conservation (freezing and thawing); mass transport in biomedical and health systems.
- Nanothermics, microthermics, and mesothermics: Scaling up nanoscale heat transport processes or coupled heat-mass transport processes; utilization of new multi-functional, meta- and graded-materials in thermal transport; nano-texturing and phase-change; multi-scale thermal transport in a process.
- Thermal solutions to climate change: Decarbonizing industrial processes; novel heating and cooling technologies with minimal greenhouse gas emissions; thermal-driven clean energy concepts; thermal and thermochemical energy storage; waste heat recovery and transmission; thermal science and technology to enable electrification of energy services.
- Thermal science and quantum technology interface: Quantum sensors for thermal measurements; quantum computing for thermal sciences; thermodynamics and novel cryogenic cooling concepts for quantum devices; thermal transport in quantum materials and quantum phenomena; thermal solutions for next-generation qubits, qubit coupling, and quantum information storage.
- New metrology and artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning methodologies in thermal sciences: Advanced thermal imaging and measurement techniques for high-resolution in situ thermal imaging and non-invasive temperature measurement; novel AI/machine learning methodologies and other data-intensive approaches that can be coupled with physics-based models and/or experiments to enable new understanding and discoveries in thermal transport processes.
NOTE: Proposals including chemical kinetics should be submitted to the ENG/CBET Combustion and Fire Systems program. Proposals dealing mainly with materials synthesis, processing and characterization should be directed to the ENG/CMMI Advanced Manufacturing program or the Division of Materials Research (DMR) in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS). Proposals at the interface of computational/mathematical sciences and thermal transport are encouraged but should be submitted to the Computational and Data-Enabled Science & Engineering (CDS&E) program.
Proposals seeking the utilization of the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory should follow the instructions in the NSF/CASIS solicitations (e.g., NSF 22-539). Proposals related to the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) general area of thermal transport properties of novel materials and heterostructures should be submitted as regular proposals to the Thermal Transport Processes program. Those proposals may be jointly reviewed by NSF and AFOSR using the NSF merit review process. Actual funding format and agency split for an award (depending on availability of funds) will be determined after the proposal selection process. Proposals related to the Department of Energy (DOE) general area of thermal and thermochemical energy storage materials and processes should be submitted as regular proposals to the Thermal Transport Processes program. In these cases, the PI should contact the program director to confirm suitability of the topic prior to submitting the proposal. Innovative proposals outside of these specific interest areas may 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.
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.
INFORMATION COMMON TO MOST CBET PROGRAMS
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 PI 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 the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Part 1, Chapter II, Section E: Types of Proposals.
Compliance: Proposals that are not compliant with the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) will be returned without review.