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Chemical and Environmental Technologies (CT)

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Chemical and Environmental Technologies (CT)

Pre-Submission Feedback
You may communicate with the Program Director, Anna Brady-Estevez (abrady@nsf.gov), to gauge if a project meets the program's intellectual merit and commercial impact criteria. Send a 1-2 page executive summary by e-mail discussing the following aspects of the project: 1) The company and team; 2) the market opportunity, value proposition, and customers; 3) the core technology and innovation; and 4) the competition. Please note that responsiveness will likely be limited in the 2 weeks leading up to the solicitation deadline.

Click here for examples of recently funded Phase I projects in this portfolio.

Introduction
The Chemical and Environmental Technologies (CT) topic covers a wide range of technology areas of current and emerging commercial significance pertaining to the broad chemical industry, the environment and related industrial sectors. Phase I proposals would typically be at the proof of concept/technical feasibility stage on new or novel technology concepts and innovations when submitting to this overall topic area. A proposal should present a clear value proposition and competitive advantage vs. existing solutions, the market opportunity, a strategy for commercialization of the innovation, a business case for how the innovation could rapidly lead to revenue generation for the small business, a clear and detailed description of the technical innovation and the key technical challenges that need to be overcome with SBIR/STTR funding, and finally, a clearly defined research and development (R&D) program detailing tasks, timelines and success metrics for a Phase I R&D program. Product/process economics and resource/energy inputs should also be addressed as applicable; along with considerations such as scale-up, and whether the product or process is a commodity and impact on the commercialization plan. Identification of key technical and commercial risks is appreciated for evaluation. It is important that the proposed project involve novel, discontinuous, disruptive innovations and be built on a firm framework involving chemistry and chemical engineering approaches. The project should focus on addressing clear commercial and societal needs, with strong potential to catalyze and accelerate U.S. job creation through scalable business growth.

CT1. Biobased Chemicals and Biochemical Processes
Relevant projects could involve novel chemical, biochemical, biotechnological, cell-free bioprocess technologies for the conversion of raw material sources to cost-competitive products that represent new products or represent sustainable alternatives to existing commercial industrial commodity, intermediate, specialty, fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals products made from non-renewable sources. Relevant proposals could involve new and novel biochemical routes to making any commodity, intermediate, specialty, fine, consumer chemicals, polymers, plastics, polymeric materials and composites with unique and novel properties and advanced functionality for any existing or new use. Technology proposed should also be built on sustainable, energy efficient, and waste minimization or waste elimination paradigms with scalable process technologies for the production of bio-based chemicals and material products.

CT2. Chemicals, Polymers, Plastics and Derivatives
Projects may involve (but are not limited to) the development of inorganic and organic chemicals, novel polymeric materials; advanced polymers, bio-based polymers; bioplastics; biosurfactants; coatings; sealants; elastomers; adhesives; composites; biopesticides and herbicides, insecticides; pharmaceuticals; fibers; self-healing barrier films improving environmental and/or corrosion protection and life; protective coatings with sensing functionality; multifunctional polymers and polymeric materials for any field of use; sustainable packaging materials for food and non-food applications; bioengineered polymers/plastics and biochemically produced chemicals, monomers, and polymers that lead to more sustainable, greener replacements to current products/materials. Projects may focus on novel approaches that possess superior cost and performance characteristics compared to an existing commercial technology/product; chemicals, polymeric, or plastic-based materials that show enhanced end-of-life biodegradability and superior recyclability. Projects of interest may seek to develop technologies that facilitate recycle and conversion of post-consumer waste, industrial, agricultural, and food waste, waste polymeric materials, plastics, etc., into cost-competitive products for commercial use.

CT3. Novel Catalysts and Processes
Proposals may involve the development of novel catalysts and catalyst materials aimed at new or existing applications that could have a disruptive, transformative commercial impact. Proposals may involve processes and technologies that chemically or biochemically (including catalytic/bio-catalytic approaches) produce products from traditional or renewable and abundant natural resources with substantially improved process, energy efficiency, reduced capital and operating costs, and reduced environmental impact compared to current approaches. Proposals may involve development of novel homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts and biocatalysts, co-catalysts, promoters, and/or novel supports that are highly active, selective, and have longer lifetimes compared to the state-of-the-art. Proposals may seek to develop sustainable catalysts that are based on environmentally friendly and non-toxic materials, non-metallic, and earth-abundant elements; catalysts enabling the simplification of complex multistep chemistries into fewer steps and ideally a single step with high selectivity, productivity and life.

CT4. Chemicals from Carbon Dioxide and Methane
Proposed approaches could include novel chemical, catalytic, biochemical and/or biotechnological routes to achieving the industrial scale conversion of carbon dioxide and/or methane to useful commercial products/materials. Proposals of interest could seek to develop and commercialize processes for efficient carbon dioxide capture and its conversion to cost-competitive chemicals and materials resulting in net carbon sequestration on a life cycle analysis. Proposals of interest could also include those with catalytic process technologies for the conversion of methane (from natural gas, landfills, wastewater treatment, etc.) to industrial chemicals; novel catalytic or biochemical/bio-catalytic process technologies to directly convert captured carbon dioxide to methanol through non syngas routes, as well as novel technologies to convert methane directly to methanol and hydrocarbons and cost competitive chemicals (through non syngas routes). Other applications, including technologies addressing ways to reduce gas flaring, and applications for gas infrastructure (e.g. pipeline leak reduction) are also welcome.

CT5. Food Technology
Proposals of interest could involve developing new production and manufacturing innovations in food processing and finished product production that focus on precision nutrition technologies to achieve enhanced nutrient bioavailability, bioefficacy and bioactivity, nutrient content, and quality and flavor in food products; food technology innovations involving novel process technology for sustainable production of new and existing food products; novel process designs, unit operations, separations, and purification approaches; upgrading food and agricultural waste to higher value products; process intensification innovations; technology for improved process monitoring and control, and sensing technologies for production quality and safety; innovations that conserve the food supply and lead to lower wastage in the supply chain from farm to consumer; sustainable packaging materials; intelligent/active/smart packaging for food safety and protection in the supply chain; real-time microbial contamination sensing and control, improvements in speed, reliability, and efficacy in the detection of contamination, adulteration, and chemical degradation; technologies to enhance process safety and sanitation; new materials and benign protective coatings for food processing, handling, and storage in industrial and domestic use; food ingredient traceability; real-time detection of chemical and microbiological hazards.

CT6. Energy Efficiency, Capture, Storage and Use
Proposed projects could include novel technology and approaches for storage and management of any energy sources. Projects may include novel technology that leads to substantial enhancement in energy storage capacity, energy use efficiency, smart energy management, thermal management, and insulation; superior energy recovery from waste streams compared to currently available technologies in any application, including (but not limited to) residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Technologies may include innovations in (but not limited to) combinations of mechanical, electrical, electrochemical, chemical/material, and biochemical approaches to improving energy efficiency in any commercially relevant application with potential for significant scalable societal impact. Innovations for existing or novel energy storage and conversion technologies (such as batteries, capacitors, supercapacitors, novel fuel cells/engines, etc.) are also relevant; materials innovations in energy applications; lubrication/tribology innovations leading to enhancing energy efficiency; innovations in insulation materials; and off-grid portable energy generation and storage technologies that completely rely on renewable sources to allow supporting industrial energy needs in remote and underdeveloped economic regions. Proposals may also cover new or novel system level optimization, monitoring, control approaches to enhancing sustainability and energy usage and efficiency of any industrial process and manufacturing technologies.

CT7. Energy Generation, Oil & Gas Transformation, Bioenergy, Renewable Fuel Technology
Proposed projects could include novel technology and approaches for the direct capture, production and use of any renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, solar-thermal, marine, tidal, geothermal, bioenergy, etc.; and waste heat recovery. Transformative technologies in oil and gas are also welcome including those that enhance production, reduce environmental impact (e.g. waterless fracking), allow production/optimization in expanded areas, or meaningfully improve efficiencies and yields of current processes. Proposed projects might include new and novel methods to generate energy from (but not limited to) marine, plant, algal, biomass, and microbial bio-energy sources; microbial hydrogen production, delivery, and storage; novel fuel cell technologies; innovations in high-yielding biomass crops for energy and chemicals production that do not compete with food supply. Proposed projects might involve the development of new, commercially viable renewable fuel options with reduced environmental impact relative to existing fuels, including (but not limited to) drop-in replacements to petroleum-based transportation fuels.

CT8. Separation Technology
Relevant projects could involve any separation technology that enables and/or enhances the efficiency of separations in existing or new process technologies in any industrial application. Proposals may focus on facilitating particularly challenging separations resulting in economically significant improvements in selectivity, throughput, energy efficiency, capital/operating costs, and environmental impact. Application areas include (but are not limited to) air separations; separations for multi-component streams; multiphase streams; separation technologies in both inorganic and organic chemical applications; novel purification processes; materials that permit effective separations; recycle and recovery of higher value materials from material waste; separations of toxics from waste; recycle and recovery of critical and strategic materials and metals; and plastics separation for recycle and reuse. Novel separation techniques as disruptive improvements to current established separation technologies are encouraged, including (but not limited to) organic/inorganic membranes materials, novel materials, and biologically mediated separations. Applications of the proposed technologies could belong in any industrial sector, including (but not limited to) drinking water and wastewater treatment; food, medical, pharmaceutical, chemicals, metals/mining, natural resource extraction, materials processing, waste recycling, and biochemical/biotechnological processes.

CT9. Resource and Water Conservation, Treatment and Reuse, Waste Minimization and Environmental Sustainability, Handling of Produced Water
Proposed projects may present novel process and product technologies for pollution prevention; technologies that dramatically reduce water usage in industrial and domestic/municipal use; technologies that lead to more efficient use of water as a resource; and technologies leading to substantial reduction or even elimination of industrial water usage by developing sustainable alternatives. Technologies proposed could involve improvements in the energy efficiency of water/wastewater treatment approaches; remove challenging pollutants from industrial and municipal wastewater that have a significant short term and/or long term environmental, ecological, and economic impact. Technologies proposed should be significant breakthroughs or enhancements relative to the current state of the art and seek to address current and emerging industrial/municipal and agricultural challenges with water conservation, use, recycle, and treatment. The proposed technology projects could span a broad spectrum of operational arenas including point of use, portable, off-grid, and fixed installations for domestic, municipal, industrial, and agricultural applications to enhance waste minimization, water and wastewater treatment, water resource recycle, reuse, and conservation. Projects of interest may seek to develop technologies that facilitate recycle and possibly recover valuable products from (but not limited to) reprocessing of waste from agricultural operations, food processing, post-consumer and industrial waste, municipal solid wastes; waste chemical, plastics, polymeric materials, plastics, etc.; recycle of precious metals, critical and strategic metals from industrial waste. Projects may include the development of technologies (smart sensors, novel process equipment, novel process technology designs, etc.) that facilitate more efficient operation of production processes and waste minimization in any aspect of commerce or industrial production/manufacturing operations. New nature-inspired processes for energy generation or storage would also fit within this topic. Incorporation of Big Data and Internet of Things capabilities to these approaches is also welcome.

CT10. Environmental Sensing, Environmental Pollution Control and Mitigation
Proposed projects may include methods to reduce human ecological and environmental impacts; microbial contamination sensing and control; the detection of toxic and hazardous chemicals; the removal of toxic and hazardous compounds from the environment and from consumer products to enhance human/animal health and safety; pathogen and toxin diagnostics technologies; novel bioremediation technologies; air pollution monitoring, mitigation, and removal of gaseous pollutants and particulates; explosives detection; technologies that reduce and remove greenhouse gases by converting them to useful products; improvements in environmental compatibility and sustainability of manufacturing/production/processing operations; and novel barrier coatings to protect against environmental damage. Projects could involve real time sensing; internet-enabled, distributed, and networked systems and smart devices/sensors/analyzers/detectors for local and remote environmental (soil, water and air) pollution/emissions monitoring, control and minimization; innovations that use Big Data and Internet of Things approaches for pollution tracking and monitoring; technologies that enhance safe monitoring of hazardous and toxic chemicals; innovations that provide superior end-of-life handling and disposal technologies of equipment/material, etc., that eliminate pollution, environmental, and public health impact would be relevant. New or novel sensors for chemical species and environmental factors in any and all applications for monitoring, measurement in (but not limited to) commercial, industrial, personal, and healthcare applications; printed, flexible, and organic sensors; portable sensors in wearable, personalized health, and medical applications and chemical sensors that are significant enablers of new or novel applications that are not effectively served with current technology options in areas including but not limited to safety, reliability, efficiency, and productivity.

CT11. Plant-Based Products and Sustainable Agricultural Innovations
Proposed projects may seek to develop novel technologies that allow for the more effective use of renewable forestry and agricultural feedstocks through biochemical, bioengineered, or green chemistry pathways for the production of plant and wood based industrial chemicals, cellulosic fibers, lignin-based materials, plastics from cellulose, packaging and building materials, coatings, sealants, elastomers, adhesives, etc. Crop protection technologies involving synthetic chemistry and biotechnology approaches; plant and agricultural biotechnology innovations that not only focus on productivity but also increase crop nutrient quality, bioavailability, nutrient content, storage stability, and shelf life; improved drought tolerance and resistance; precision agriculture innovations; crop, soil, environmental sensing, and monitoring technologies that improve agricultural crop management and productivity, reduce carbon foot print, and enhance the sustainability of silviculture/agricultural practices.

CT12. Chemical Production Efficiency and Productivity
Proposals may seek to develop innovative process equipment and technology across all chemical and industrial manufacturing operations that lead to significant process simplification, intensification, enhanced efficiency, productivity enhancement, waste minimization or waste elimination, lower carbon footprint and greener, more sustainable processes; systems that lead to substantially improved energy efficiency and substantially improved transport characteristics in challenging heat transfer, mass transfer, mixing and reaction applications, including but not limited to systems involving multiple phases and complex rheology; novel unit operations, improved heat transfer and insulation technology; reaction technology and process design innovations in the production of (but not limited to) commercial chemicals, metals, materials, food, pharmaceutical, commodities, and finished products; novel micro reactors; process miniaturization, lab on a chip approaches; process automation systems that facilitate the safe conduct of complex and hazardous chemistry through novel system designs that include (but are not limited to) process simplification, capital efficiency, and retrofittability, leading to greener and more efficient process technology in new and existing manufacturing/production facilities. The effective use of Big Data and Internet of Things paradigms for enhancements in chemical process technology and manufacturing systems; improvements in managing the sustainability of industrial supply chains; dynamic production and supply chain optimization; smart systems that use process data from sensors for real-time and dynamic process optimization and control; enhancing process safety; process control; fault detection, tolerance, and mitigation; operational reliability and efficiency would be examples relevant to this topic.

CT13. Sustainable Chemistry and Green Engineering Technology
This topic seeks to broadly capture innovative technology development projects that are seeking to develop engineered products, technologies and system solutions involving green engineering and green chemistry approaches that may also involve cross-cutting and multidisciplinary approaches to addressing significant commercial and societal needs through technological solutions. Projects may propose innovations that enhance sustainability through any combination of reducing carbon foot print, energy intensity, natural resource use, pollution, toxicity, safety hazards, and environmental impact. Projects may include any breakthrough technology development that will result in new solutions to significant societal needs, or significantly enhancing or replacing existing commercial products, technologies and processes with greener, sustainable alternatives.

CT14. Emerging Technologies and Applications
Proposers are encouraged to submit SBIR/STTR proposals to this topic as a way to catalyze funding support in new emerging technology areas. This topic is intended to capture ideas that involve the applications of broad fields of chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, and interdisciplinary science and engineering areas on emerging technology innovations and applications that may not have a clear fit within the named topics listed above.

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