Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 27 | 19. Mai 2020

NSF-DFG Lead Agency Activity in Electrosynthesis and Electrocatalysis (NSF-DFG EChem)

Recognising the importance of international collaborations in promoting scientific discoveries, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on research cooperation. To facilitate the support of collaborative work between US researchers and their German counterparts, the Division of Chemistry (CHE) and the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems (CBET) at the NSF and the Divisions of Physics and Chemistry (PC) and Engineering Sciences (ING 1) at the DFG are pleased to announce a lead agency activity in the areas of electrosynthesis and electrocatalysis.

Both the NSF and DFG recognise an urgent need to support research focused on discovering and developing new chemical synthesis methods that are both energy efficient and compatible with non-fossil fuel energy sources. We are particularly interested in novel and fundamental electrochemical reactions and studies addressing transformations in organic and polymer synthesis, water splitting reactions (hydrogen/oxygen evolution), and nitrogen reduction (ammonia production). Relevant activities include: mechanistic studies; catalyst design, synthesis, and characterisation; computational modelling, theory, and simulation; and experimental tool development. For fundamental engineering science projects, we are interested in studies involving reaction engineering, reactor system design, and component or device scale studies as examples that provide fundamental knowledge supporting scale-up of systems. In addition, fundamental engineering science projects involving alternative (to thermal) activation mechanisms such as microwaves (e.g. microwave assisted catalysis) and low temperature plasmas (e.g. plasma-assisted catalysis) are welcomed.

Proposals eligible to apply for this lead agency activity will need to have a research focus relevant to the topic areas identified above. Proposals of German applicants are accepted in the subject areas 321–327 and 403 of the DFG’s subject classification (see below under Further Information). US researchers should review the CHE and CBET programme descriptions for research supported through these NSF divisions.

Proposals will be reviewed by either NSF or DFG as the lead agency, depending on where the largest proportion of research lies. Proposals must provide a clear rationale for the need for a US-German collaboration, including the unique expertise and synergy that the collaborating groups will bring to the project.

For applicants to be invited to submit a formal proposal, an Expression of Interest (EOI) is required and should be submitted to the prospective lead agency no later than 
1 July 2020, 5pm local time.

Upon confirmation from both funding organisations that the collaborative research proposal is appropriate for the NSF-DFG EChem solicitation, the lead agency will contact the researchers to inform them that they may submit a full research proposal.

All full research proposals must be submitted by 30 September 2020, 5pm local time (for first-time users of the DFG’s online submission system “elan” pre-registration is necessary by September 22, 2020).

For more detailed information on this solicitation including specific instructions for applicants in Germany, please refer to the full call text (see below under Further Information).

Notification of results

Applicants will be informed in writing of the results of the review and, where applicable, of the subsequent administrative steps according to the respective national regulations. The selection of the projects will be completed by August 2021.

Personal data contained in an applicant’s proposal or a proposal submitted by an applicant’s institution/organisation and any data collected on the applicant in relation to DFG funding will be transferred, if necessary, to the NSF and reviewers. Note that their base or place of data processing is not located in a member state of the European Union or in another state party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area. This information is transferred as part of the decision-making process on the proposal and in conjunction with implementing the project.

This transfer is permissible as an exception because it is necessary

  • for the performance of the funding contract between the applicant and the DFG and for the implementation of pre-contractual measures relating to the proposal (Art. 49 (1) (b) GDPR),
  • for the performance of the (employment) contract between an applicant and an applicant’s employer or the applicant institution/organisation (Art. 49 (1) (b), (c) GDPR) or
  • for the conclusion and/or performance of the funding contract concluded in the interest of the applicant between a third party and/or the applicant’s institution/organisation and the DFG (Art. 49 (1) (c) GDPR).

Further Information

Full call text including specific instructions for applicants from Germany:

Information on submitting proposals to the NSF:

DFG’s subject classification:

Contacts persons at the DFG:

Contact persons at the NSF: