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Directorate for Engineering
Division of Chemical and Transport Systems

Technologies and processes for transforming materials and energy are critical to improve living standards, prolong life, and protect the natural environment. The Division of Chemical and Transport Systems (CTS) supports research that contributes to the knowledge base important for the design and control of a large number of industrial processes. Relevant areas of application include production of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, petroleum and petrochemicals; synthetic and natural materials such as polymers and electronic materials; energy; and waste treatment. CTS support is directed to fundamental engineering principles involving mathematical models of macro and molecular systems and experimental techniques. Emphasis is on projects that have the potential for innovation and broad application in areas related to environmental preservation, materials development, and chemical and thermal processing. Increased emphasis is being placed on formation of nanostructured functional materials, environmentally benign chemical and materials processing, the development of sustainable and more efficient energy systems, and effective integration of research and education.

1. Chemical Reaction Processes

This program consists of two components: (1) Kinetics, Catalysis, and Molecular Processes (KCMP) and (2) Process and Reaction Engineering (PRE). Activities supported through the components include research on the rates and mechanisms of important classes of chemical reactions and on the quantitative description of chemical reactors and processes.

  • Kinetics, Catalysis, and Molecular Processes (KCMP)—Supports the study of reactions at the molecular scale. Topics of interest include fundamental theories, novel modeling, and simulation approaches to reactive molecular processes; molecular modeling to relate atomistic-level phenomena to plant-scale design; single-molecule mechanisms and characterization; combinatorial catalysis and combinatorial chemistry; automated parallel synthesis and high-throughput screening; catalytic and materials process informatics; catalysis in medicine and life processes; reactions in nanoenvironments; large-scale kinetics databases and intelligent data management; distributed and collaborative reactive process characterization; bioinspired reactive process design; nanofabricated reactive processes; nanophase control in reactive processes; electrochemical and photochemical processes; environmentally sustainable and abundant feedstocks; wasteless pathways and pollution prevention; low-temperature chemical processes; and single-step processing.
  • Process and Reaction Engineering (PRE)—Generally deals with reactors, macroscopic reaction systems, and chemical-processing plants. Topics of interest include design and optimization of complex chemical processes including scheduling and supply-chain modeling; dynamic modeling and control of processes; combined reaction and separation; sensors for process and quality control; reactive processing of polymers, ceramics, and thin films; global integration of chemical processes within the service economy; interactions between chemical reactions and transport processes in reactive systems; and the use of information technology in the design of complex chemical reactors.

2. Interfacial, Transport, and Separation Processes

Activities supported through the components in this program support research in areas related to interfacial phenomena and mass transport, separation science, and phase-equilibrium thermodynamics. The two components of the program are (1) Interfacial, Transport, and Thermodynamics (ITT) and (2) Separation and Purification Processes (SPP).

  • Interfacial, Transport, and Thermodynamics (ITT)—Major focus areas include advanced materials processing and environmentally benign processing. ITT provides support for fundamental approaches and theories that deal with the thermodynamics of complex fluids and transport phenomena at interfaces of synthetic and biological systems, and the processing of nanoscale materials and thin films. The ITT Program also supports research aimed at minimizing hazardous products in chemical and materials manufacturing, with a focus on environmentally friendly coatings, alternate reactions, and processing media.
  • Separation and Purification Processes (SPP)—Major focus areas include the development of functional materials as effective mass-separation agents, high-performance computing and modeling applied to separation processes, and novel strategies that combine several phenomena to accomplish effective separations. The SPP Program supports basic research that involves novel membranes and adsorbents; modeling and computations applied over a range of scales, from a molecular level to macroscale analysis of separation processes; and separations utilizing combined effects of controlled hydrodynamics, adsorption phenomena, electrical or magnetic fields, and chemical reactions.

3. Fluid and Particle Processes

Consists of two components (1) Fluid Dynamics and Hydraulics (FDH) and (2) Particulate and Multiphase Processes (PMP). Activities supported through these components include fundamental research on mechanisms and phenomena that govern single- and multiphase fluid flow; particle formation and transport, various multiphase processes; synthesis and processing of nanostructured materials, and fluid and solid system interactions.

  • Fluid Dynamics and Hydraulics (FDH)—Supports basic research on fluid dynamics, both computational and experimental. Major areas of interest include turbulence, flow in complex geometries, stability and transition in polymer processing, and flow in nanostructures, with applications to design and control machines and processes. The program also strives to increase the understanding and predictive capabilities of flows in rivers and coastal areas for environmental and commercial applications.
  • Particulate and Multiphase Processes (PMP)—Funds research on topics related to multiphase and dispersed systems. Areas of interest include not only multiphase flows but also the synthesis and processing of nanoparticles. In addition to experimental studies, the program supports work on molecular and mesoscale modeling of particle formation and materials synthesis. Hierarchical simulation techniques that will lead to insights of engineering relevance and nonintrusive measurement techniques are supported, as is research on innovative uses of particles in new processes and technologies.

4. Thermal Systems

This program consists of two components (1) Thermal Transport and Thermal Processes (TTP) and (2) Combustion and Plasma Systems (CPS). Priorities in both programs include projects related to environmental quality and energy efficiency as well as new manufacturing techniques.

  • Thermal Transport and Thermal Processes (TTP)—Supports projects that seek a basic understanding of heat transfer, particularly at the micro- and nanoscale levels, and that apply heat and mass transfer principles to technologically-related fields. Areas in need of basic heat-transfer research include photon and phonon transport in thin films, laser/radiation interactions with liquid and solid phases, macroscopic transport with microstructure formation during solidification, flow and heat transport in porous media, microjet cooling for electronic equipment; phase-change materials, non-isothermal rheology, and crystal growth. Examples of technologically related fields are manufacturing, laser processing and machining, welding, gas turbines, heating and ventilation systems, biotechnology, and cryogenics.
  • Combustion and Plasma Systems (CPS)—Supports research on the fundamental, physical, and chemical processes involved in combustion. A primary objective is to address major problems such as the formation of pollutants in combustion, energy-conversion inefficiencies, and fire hazards. The program supports fundamental science and engineering studies that underlie the application of plasma technology in situations such as chemical conversions, materials refining, and energy recovery. Projects supported by CPS apply combustion or plasma processing to such areas as production of fine powders or thin films, waste destruction, sterilization, and surface modification. Major topics covered include flame chemistry, incineration, internal combustion engines, pollutant formation from combustion, models of combustion or plasma systems, diagnostics for combustion and plasmas, plasma chemistry and physics, and combustion synthesis. CPS also supports computational efforts in both theory and simulation, and experimental studies on real engineering systems or laboratory models, diagnostic techniques, and real-time monitoring of processes.
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