Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 7/5/2023

Developing and Demonstrating Nanosensor Technology to Detect, Monitor, and Degrade Pollutants Request for Applications

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are long-lasting chemicals that are widely used in an array of consumer, commercial, and industrial products. Due to widespread use and persistence in the environment, PFAS are commonly found in air, soil, and water. There is evidence that continued exposure to certain PFAS, even at low levels, can cause harmful health effects [1]. Measuring PFAS at low levels is a challenge with current analytical methods. In addition, PFAS are incredibly difficult to degrade, and traditional methods often cannot degrade PFAS or produce a toxic waste stream.

Advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology have the potential to address the major challenges of conventional technology for the detection and treatment of PFAS-contaminated waters. Nanoparticles have been introduced for the detection and remediation of a wide range of contaminants in different matrices [2, 3]. Because of their unique properties, nanomaterials have enabled advances in sensor design such as miniaturization, portability, and rapid signal response times [4]. Nanomaterial-enabled sensors are being designed for efficiency, flexibility, and multipollutant sensing applications. Nanotechnology may help to build better environmental sensors by reducing cost, improving efficiency and increasing selectivity [5]. In addition to detection and monitoring, nanotechnology can also be used in the sequestration and degradation of pollutants. Nanomaterials have advantages to conventional treatment methods, such as smaller size, larger specific surface area, and are easily manipulated and dispersed in water [6]. The growing focus on removing low levels of PFAS contamination from drinking water supplies has produced several PFAS-removal approaches. However, the carbon-fluorine (C-F) bond in PFAS is extremely strong, making complete destruction difficult, and there are uncertainties around the effectiveness of traditional destruction technologies (e.g., thermal treatment) for PFAS. The next generation of high-performance separation and degradation technologies are needed for the safe and cost-effective removal and destruction of PFAS.

This Request for Applications (RFA) is soliciting research to develop and demonstrate nanosensor technology with functionalized catalysts that have the potential to degrade selected contaminants in addition to detecting and monitoring pollutants. Specifically, EPA is seeking proposals that use nanotechnology to detect, monitor, and degrade PFAS in groundwater or surface water that may be used as drinking water sources. 

Deadline: Oct. 4, 2023

Areas of Interest

This RFA solicits applications that address both of the following research areas. Applications that only address one research area may not be rated as highly as those that address both.  

Research Area 1: Develop and demonstrate nanosensor technology to detect and monitor PFAS 

Research Area 2: Develop and demonstrate nanosensor technology with functionalized catalysts to degrade PFAS

Eligibility Requirements

Public and private nonprofit institutions/organizations, public and private institutions of higher education (IHEs), and hospitals located in the U.S. and its territories or possessions; state and local governments; Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments; and U.S. territories or possessions are eligible to apply. Profit-making firms and individuals are not eligible to apply. 

If an applicant submits more than one application under this announcement, each application must be submitted separately, and the scope of work proposed in each application must be significantly different from the other application(s) in order for them to all be deemed eligible. If applications are submitted with scopes of work that do not significantly differ, then EPA will only accept the most recently submitted application and all other applications will be deemed ineligible.

Amount Description

The EPA anticipates funding approximately 1 award under this RFA. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $1,500,000 per award, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered. The total project period requested in an application submitted for this RFA may not exceed three years.   

Funding Type