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Nanotechnology Grants Research and other NanoActivities at EPA Barbara Karn, PhD US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development National Center for Environmental Research. Monday, November 18, 2002 US Department of Agriculture. EPA's Mission:.

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Nanotechnology Grants Research and other NanoActivities at EPA

Barbara Karn, PhD

US Environmental Protection Agency

Office of Research and Development

National Center for Environmental Research

Monday, November 18, 2002

US Department of Agriculture


EPA's Mission:

Protect human health and safeguard the natural environment — air, water, land — upon which life depends.


EPA Organization and Goals

EPA's 10 Strategic Goals:

  • Clean Air
  • Clean and Safe Water
  • Safe Food
  • Preventing Pollution and Reducing Risk in Communities, homes, Workplaces and Ecosystems
  • Better Waste Management and Restoration of Contaminated Waste Sites
  • Reduction of Global and Cross Border Environmental Risks
  • Expansion of Americans’ Right-to-Know
  • Sound Science, Improved Understanding of Environmental Risk and Innovation to Address Environmental Problems
  • A Credible Deterrent to Pollution and Greater Compliance with the Law
  • Effective Management

The National Center for Environmental Research


  • ORD provides the leadership in science and conducts most of EPA’s research and development
  • NCER is one of two Centers that, together with three National Laboratories, comprise the Office of Research and Development
  • NCER is ORD’s extramural research arm
  • ORD’s research budget is approx. $550 million, with $100 million for competitive extramural grants and fellowships (STAR)
  • ORD in cooperation with other EPA offices selects topics for research in the STAR program

STAR Program

  • Established in 1995 as part of the overall reorganization of ORD
  • Mission: include this country’s universities and non-profit centers in EPA’s research program and to ensure the best possible quality of science in areas of highest risk and greatest importance to the Agency
  • Award about $100 million annually
  • Manage about 1000 active research grants and fellowships
  • Each year: receive 3000-3500 grant applications; make about 300 new STAR awards

NCER’s Extramural Programs

Science To Achieve Results (STAR)

Targeted Research Grants through Requests for ApplicationsRFAs-Directed specifically towards national environmental science needs as related to the mission of EPA: Topics selected to complement in-house research program

Exploratory/Futures Grants-General Solicitation in broad areas related to mission of the Agency----NANOTECHNOLOGY

Joint Solicitations with other Agencies -Topics complement partner’s in-house research program

Competed Centers

Earmarked Centers

Hazardous Substance Research Centers


Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Contracts

environmental challenges for the 21st century
Environmental Challenges for the 21st Century…

Maintaining and Improving Soil, Water, and Air Quality

“Asian Brown Cloud”, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

  • Emissions of Airborne Gaseous and Particulate Matter
  • Oil and Chemical Spills
  • Abandoned Industrial and Mining Sites

Pesticide and Fertilizer Runoff


…and the Promising Role of Nanotechnology

Pollution Prevention



  • Improve environmental technologies (treatment, remediation, sensing)
  • Improve manufacturing processes (efficiency, waste reduction)
  • Dematerialization


the scale of things
The scale of things

1 nm = 10-9 m

epa nanotechnology activities
EPA Nanotechnology Activities

Environmental Applications



  • First RFA
  • Synthesis and Processing;
  • Characterization and Manipulation;
  • Modeling and Simulation;
  • Device and System Concepts


EPA Grantees’ workshop, August 28-29, 2002



Third RFA

Health Effects of



SBIR Nanomaterials and Clean Technologies

Applications and Implications


  • ACS Symposium-March 2003;
  • AIChE sessions Nov. 2003
  • Interagency Environmental Conference-Summer 2003
  • Second RFA
  • Environmentally Benign Manufacturing and Processing;
  • Remediation/Treatment;
  • Sensors;
  • Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology

Building a Green Nanotech Community-


1 st nano rfa
1st Nano RFA

Opened January, 2001; Closed June, 2001

82 Proposals Received

16 Grantees supported

$5.8 M for 3-year research grants, averaging over $370.7K

example epa star research
Example EPA STAR Research


Nanostructured microcantilever for sensing single microbe

Catalytic Nanostructures

  • Transition metal carbide and oxycarbide nanoparticles for exhaust gas treatement.
  • Replace use of expensive Pt-group metals

Ismat Shah, U Delaware

A microcantilever (made from nanoparticles) is used to detect and manipulate nanosized biological contaminants. Applicable for miniaturization of detection technology

Wan Y. Shih, Drexel University



Molecular electronics

Nanoscale electrodes on a silicon chip used to detect a few metal ions without preconcentration. Suitable for on-site detection of ultratrace levels of heavy metal ions including radioactive

Nongjian Tao, Arizona State

Heavy Metals

Nanostructured porous silicon with nanowire coatings used for realtime, remote and industiral process control of specified heavy metals

William Trogler, UC San Diego

Nanowire sensor for explosives

Cross-sectional electron micrograph of luminescent porous silicon.

treatment remediation


  • Ag/Au@TiO2 nanoparticles for remediation of environmental pollutants in water.
  • Uses energy of visible sunlight for photochemical reaction.

George Chumanov, Clemson University

  • Bioderived nanosized catalysts
  • Chemical degradation processes in soil or water.

Daniel Strongin, Temple U

treatment remediation15

Reductive dechlorination of organic pollutants in water or soil using nanosize FeS clusters immobilized in dendrimer nanostructures

Mamadou Diallo, Howard U

Membrane and Polymer-Based Nanostructures

Utilization of a non-toxic polymer to bind heavy metals like arsenic in water or soil

Wilfred Chen, UC Riverside

Heavy-metal binding


Nanoparticles immobilized in membrane for treatment of hazardous organics in water. Use may lead to miniaturization of dechlorination reactor systems. Dibakar Bhattacharyya, U Kentucky


Green Synthesis of Nanoparticles

Exploring how to stabilize nanoparticles without harmful additives (make “bare" nanoparticles) that would pollute water, and soil.

Darrell Velegol, Penn State

“Sense and Shoot” Multifunctionality

Green Catalysis

  • Green selective oxidation reactions in cation-exchanged zeolites
  • NOx emission abatement
  • Decomposition of organic contaminants water or air.

Sarah Larsen, U Iowa

Composite carbon nanotube/magnetic nanoparticle structures that can both detect and treat contaminants in water or air

Wolfgang Sigmund, U Florida


Opened: February 13, 2002 - Closed: July 1, 2002

Over 130 applications

Fall peer review with awards early 2003

2nd--2002 solicitation

3rd--2003 solicitation

Beginning writing; expect RFA in April/May 2003

Health Effects of Manufactured Nanomaterials



AUGUST 28/29,2002

Proceedings available soon


EPA/USDA areas for coordination and cooperation:

Monitoring/Sensing: Safe food, Runoff, Land/soil,

Water bodies

Treatment/remediation: Feedlots, Agricultural products, Ponds, Drinking water

Pollution Prevention: Agribusiness, Agricultural chemical use, Renewable feedstocks


Contact us:


Barbara Karn