Dear Colleague Letter: Collaborative Funding Opportunities in the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

October 4, 2016

Dear Colleagues:

The Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) will consider proposals for collaborative funding with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) [formerly the Water Environment Research Foundation], and/or the Water Research Foundation (WRF). For a proposal to be considered for collaborative funding, the proposal must be submitted to the appropriate NSF-CBET program as an unsolicited proposal during the CBET unsolicited submission window, which is October 1, 2016 – October 20, 2016. The same dates will apply in future years. Proposals will be reviewed as part of the unsolicited program(s). Proposals must follow guidelines for the CBET program to which they are submitted. Proposals will be evaluated according to the NSF criteria of intellectual merit and broader impacts.

Each collaborating organization has outlined its particular science and engineering interests, which are summarized below. Additional details can be found on the organizational website for the organization, which is given below.

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Electric Power Research Institute

The key research questions and proposals that EPRI would potentially support focus on the connection between electricity generation and utilization and water availability and use, as well as the connection between electricity generation/utilization and food production. The proposal should contain a clear focus on the larger goals of water use optimization described here:

  • Ideas which focus on developing alternative water sources and optimizing water use in power plants for water conservation purposes;
  • Novel, energy efficient technologies or methods for water and wastewater treatment, transport, industrial processes, and agriculture to reduce water demand and conserve electricity;
  • Novel, energy efficient technologies or methods for residential and commercial buildings, and industrial processes;
  • Technologies that simultaneously optimize water and energy use and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and,
  • Innovations which maximize the use of cheap, available energy (including low grade heat sources at thermal power plants) and water inputs using system integration.

EPRI anticipates funding for the next two years in support of this collaborative initiative as funds allow. Proposers wishing to be considered should visit the information and white paper on the EPRI website ( which gives specific details on EPRI’s research interests in water.

Water Environment & Reuse Foundation
The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) would potentially support research and new technology development and demonstration projects that enhance the quality and reliability of water for natural systems and communities with an integrated approach to resource recovery and reuse. The key research questions and proposals that WE&RF would potentially support will focus on intensification and resource recovery (IR^2) at wastewater, reuse and stormwater facilities. The goal will be to improve basic science and engineering and to accelerate the development, demonstration, and implementation of innovative, cost-effective technologies to enhance management and recovery of water, nutrients, energy, heat and other valuable products at water resource recovery facilities.

Specific examples of areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Nutrient Removal and Recovery: Including processes for intensified mainstream biological nutrient removal, macro and micro nutrient recovery (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium), etc.
  • Energy from Wastewater: Including processes for wastewater carbon diversion and enhanced energy recovery, digestion enhancement, conversion of sludge or biosolids to energy, and novel means of recovering various forms of energy contained in wastewater (e.g., chemical, thermal, kinetic).
  • Water for Reuse: Including processes for cost-effective advanced water treatment for production of water for potable or non-potable use, removal of compounds of emerging concern, etc.
  • High Rate Treatment: Including processes for higher throughputs and cake solids in dewatering, improving dewaterability, high rate wet weather treatment, high intensity filtration, etc.
  • Integrated Water Management: Including research that facilitates change by acting as a catalyst and providing the technical support for a paradigm shift in water management for cities and towns toward sustainable systems that integrate wastewater, stormwater, drinking water and source water, as well as other infrastructure (e.g., energy, transportation, parks, etc.).
  • “One Water” framework: Including integrated planning for municipal stormwater and wastewater; institutional issues for sustainable water management; incorporating urban planning and design into integrated water management; integrating with alternative water sources, reclaimed water and stormwater reuse.
  • Food-Water-Energy Nexus: Including research that provides communities with technical and management tools to better manage the paradigm shift where water is understood to be integral to food and energy, while advancing a shift to the “circular economy.”
  • Other products: Including processes for capturing or producing other valuable products from wastewater such as chemicals, bioplastics, etc.

WE&RF anticipates funding up to $500,000 a year for the next two years in support of this collaborative initiative. Proposers wishing to be considered should visit the “research areas” on the WE&RF website (, which gives specific details on programmatic research interests in water.

Water Research Foundation

There is a growing awareness in the US and worldwide about the stresses being placed on water supplies and other natural resources by increasing population, changing climate, aging water infrastructure and increasing competition for finite resources. The challenges are spurring a move to a “one water” approach in which water from all sources is managed holistically and cooperatively to meet social, environmental, and economic needs.

The key research questions and proposals that WRF would potentially support focus on all aspects important to water, wastewater/resource recovery, recycled water, and stormwater systems which can be applied to advance and optimize protection of public health and the environment through innovative technologies, management and financing. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Watershed protection/source water quality issues aimed at optimizing source water quality, to include nutrient control;
  • Innovative water, wastewater, and reuse treatment processes and technologies;
  • Innovative stormwater management, including green infrastructure;
  • Resource recovery;
  • Evaluation of alternative water supplies and integrated water resources – fit for purpose treatment;
  • Water reuse/water recycling;
  • Energy efficiency and integrated water-energy planning;
  • Drought management and impacts from climate change;
  • Waterborne pathogens in distribution and plumbing systems; biofilms;
  • Water distribution system water quality;
  • Sensors and sensor technology to optimize treatment, collection, distribution, conveyance and operations;
  • Cyanobacterial blooms and cyanotoxins.

WRF anticipates funding up to $500,000 a year for the next two years in support of this collaborative initiative. Proposers wishing to be should visit the WRF website ( for the Focus Areas and research interests in water.

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

October 20, 2016