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Chemical and Environmental Technologies (CT)


The Chemical and Environmental Technologies (CT) topic covers a wide range of technology areas of current and emerging commercial significance pertaining to both the broad chemical industry as well as the environment. 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, the market opportunity, a strategy for commercialization of the innovation, and a business case for how the project could rapidly lead to revenue generation for the small business. It is important that the proposed project involve novel, discontinuous, disruptive innovations and be built on a firm framework of sustainability involving green chemistry and green 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

Relevant projects could involve novel chemical/biochemical/biotechnological process technologies for the conversion of renewable raw material sources to cost-competitive products that represent new products or, sustainable alternatives to existing commercial industrial commodity, intermediate, specialty and fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals products derived from non-renewable sources. 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 biobased chemicals and products. Projects could involve proof of concept or technical feasibility work on all aspects of proving out a production process. Technologies that facilitate the separation and purification of products made through biochemical pathways should submit to the Separations Technology (CT2) topic. Process intensification approaches should consider the CT12 topic.

CT2. Separations

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 with a 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 in any industry; novel purification processes; materials that permit effective separations; sensor designs based on separations; recycle and recovery of higher value materials from waste; separations of toxics from waste; recycle and recovery of critical and strategic materials and metals. Novel separation techniques and media as disruptive improvements to current established separation technologies are encouraged, including (but not limited to) organic/inorganic membranes, 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.

CT3. Chemicals, Polymers and PlasticsTechnology

Relevant proposals could involve new and novel chemical and biochemical routes to making any commodity, intermediate, specialty, fine chemicals, polymers, plastics and polymeric materials with unique and novel properties and functionality for commercial applications and products. Projects may focus on novel approaches that possess superior cost and performance characteristics compared to existing commercial products; show enhanced end of life biodegradability and superior recyclability. Projects may involve (but are not limited to) the development of products that are biobased; novel polymeric materials; bioplastics; biosurfactants; coatings; sealants; elastomers; adhesives; sustainable packaging materials for food and non-food applications; self-healing polymers; multifunctional polymers and polymeric materials for use in electrochemical and electronic applications; products from recycled materials or from a biobased or renewable feed stock source; bioengineered plastics and biochemically produced polymers and precursors that lead to more sustainable, greener replacements to current polymers and polymeric products. Projects of interest may seek to develop technologies that facilitate recycle and conversion of post-consumer and industrial waste, waste polymeric materials, plastics, etc ., into products for broad commercial use.

CT4. Novel Catalytic Processes and Reaction Technology

Processes that chemically or biochemically (including catalytic/biocatalytic approaches) produce products from renewable and abundant natural resources with substantially improved process, energy efficiency, reduced capital and operating costs, and reduced environmental impact compared to current approaches. New or novel green chemistry processes; technologies involving the 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 metals, 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.

CT5. Carbon Dioxide and Methane Conversion to Industrial Chemicals

Proposals of interest could seek to develop and commercialize processes for efficient carbon dioxide capture and its conversion to value-added industrial chemicals and products resulting in net carbon sequestration on a life cycle analysis basis. 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 process technologies to directly convert captured carbon dioxide to methanol through non syngas routes, as well as novel catalytic technologies to convert methane directly to methanol and hydrocarbons and value-added chemicals (through non syngas routes). Proposed approaches could include novel biochemical/biotechnological routes to achieving the industrial scale conversion of carbondioxide and methane to useful commercial products leading to a net consumption of greenhouse gases.

CT6. Food and Pharmaceutical Process Technology

Proposals of interest could involve developing novel engineering solutions to new food and pharma production challenges; innovative process technology and sustainable routes to end products; new process engineering, unit operations, separations, purification approaches applied to food and pharma production; technology for improved process monitoring, control, and sensing technologies for quality and safety; novel food and pharma storage technologies; sustainable packaging materials; innovations that conserve the food supply and lead to lower wastage in the supply chain from farm to consumer; intelligent/active/smart packaging for food and pharma 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, chemical degradation; technologies to enhance process safety and sanitation; new materials and benign coatings for food and pharma processing, handling and storage in industrial and domestic use; food and pharma ingredient traceability; and real-time detection of chemical and microbiological hazards. Proposals may bring forth innovations to solve significant process development and scale-up challenges in development of new pharmaceutical processes.

CT7. Sustainable Technologies for Energy Efficiency, Capture, Storage and Use

Proposed projects could include novel technology and approaches for the direct capture, conversion, storage, and use of any renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, solar-thermal, ocean, geothermal, bioenergy etc.; and waste heat recovery. 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 applications, 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 a 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; nature-inspired processes for sustainable energy generation or capture; materials innovations in energy applications; lubrication/tribology innovations leading to enhanced energy efficiency; off-grid portable energy generation and storage technologies that completely rely on renewable sources to allow for the support of 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.

CT8. Bioenergy and Renewable Fuels Technology

Proposed projects might include new and novel methods to generate energy from marine, plant, algal, 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.

CT9. Water Conservation, Treatment and Reuse, Waste Minimization, Recyclingand Environmental Sustainability

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; technologies leading to substantial reduction or even elimination of industrial water usage by developing sustainable alternatives. Technologies proposed could involve energy efficient water/wastewater treatment approaches that minimize the energy usage in treatment or remove 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 projects could seek to develop technology solutions spanning 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, reprocessing of post-consumer and industrial waste, waste chemical, polymeric materials, plastics etc ., into products of commercial use and value. 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.

CT10. Environmental Pollution Control and Mitigation

Proposed projects may include methods to reduce human ecological and environmental impacts; microbial contamination sensing and control; the removal of toxic compounds from the environment and from consumer products to enhance human and animal safety; pathogen and toxin diagnostics technologies; novel bioremediation technologies; air pollution monitoring , mitigation and removal of gaseous pollutants and particulates ; technologies that reduce and remove greenhouse gases by converting them to useful products; improvements in environmental compatibility and sustainability of manufacturing/production/processing operations. Projects could involve real-time sensing, internet-enabled distributed and networked systems and smart devices/sensors/analyzers for local and remote environmental (soil, water and air) pollution monitoring , control, and minimization; innovations that use big data from sensor networks for pollution tracking and monitoring; technologies that enhance safe operation of hazardous and toxic chemical/industrial process manufacturing/operations; 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.

CT11. Sustainable Wood-based Products and Agriculture

Technologies that allow for the more effective use of renewable forestry as a biomass feedstock through biochemical, bioengineered, or green chemistry pathways for the production of wood-based fuels and industrial chemicals, such as cellulosic fibers, lignin-based materials, plastics from cellulose, food packaging and building materials, coatings, sealants, elastomers, adhesives, etc. Technologies that allow for the more efficient processing of wood for industrial use and technologies that enhance the renewal and management of forests for sustainable industrial and commercial use would be relevant. Technologies that increase the efficiency of nutrient assimilation; green pesticides, herbicides and insecticides; plant and agricultural biotechnology innovations; drought tolerance and resistance; sustainable and commercially viable precision agricultural and forestry technologies; high productivity harvesting technology; soil, environmental sensing, and monitoring technologies that improve forest and agricultural crop management and productivity, reduce carbon foot print, and enhance the sustainability of silviculture/agricultural practices.

CT12. Process Intensification Technology

Innovative process equipment and technology across all chemical/metallurgical engineering operations that lead to significant process simplification, enhanced energy efficiency, waste minimization or waste elimination, and lower carbon footprint and/or provide greener, more sustainable processes; systems that lead to substantially improved energy efficiency and transport characteristics in challenging heat transfer, mass transfer, and reaction applications; novel unit operations 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 sustainable process technology in new and existing manufacturing/production facilities.

CT13. Smart Production and Process Equipment Technology

Proposals may involve innovations that seek the use of smart production technology, systems, and devices to enhance the energy efficiency, sustainability, and resource utilization efficiency of existing and new manufacturing capacity in energy and resource-intensive industrial production processes including (but not limited to) energy production, chemicals, materials, cement, metals, and mining industries. Proposals may include innovations based on the use of real time data applied to the safe, efficient, automated, sustainable and fault tolerant operation of process plants. The effective use of big data for enhancements in smart 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 enhancing process safety, fault detection and mitigation, operational reliability, and efficiency would be relevant to this topic. Technologies that are discontinuous and breakthrough innovations that can improve existing manufacturing and production processes and unit operations as retrofittable or drop-in solutions would be relevant.


CT14. Innovations in Green Engineering and Chemistry

This topic seeks to broadly capture innovative technology ideas that are seeking to develop engineered products, technologies and solutions involving green engineering and green chemistry that may also involve cross cutting and multidisciplinary approaches to addressing commercial and societal needs through technological solutions. Projects may propose to develop innovations that enhance sustainability through a combination of reducing: carbon foot print, energy intensity, natural resource use, pollution, and negative environmental impact. Projects may include any breakthrough technology development that will result in economic, greener, more environmentally sustainable products and processes in any aspect of industrial supply and manufacturing chains, ranging the full gamut of industrial operations, spanning raw material, manufacture, transport, consumption, and disposal.



Agency Contact(s) 

General inquiries regarding this topic should be made to: Prakash Balan, (703) 292-5341,


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