This grant will provide funds to support the participation of young researchers (students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty) from US institutions in the 3rd North American Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering (NASCRE 3). The symposium will take place in Houston, TX, USA, during March 17-20, 2013. The theme of the symposium is: "Chemical Reaction Engineering for a Sustainable Future: Addressing New Challenges and Revisiting Persistent Problems in Energy, Environmental, and Chemicals Research". Advisors will be asked to nominate students and postdoctoral researchers working in their research groups; the nomination package will include a letter of recommendation and the CV of the nominee. Junior faculty members will simply submit their CVs. The NASCRE 3 Scientific Committee will evaluate the applicants and select the candidates who will receive the partial support.

Intellectual Merit: The U.S. faces imposing challenges in energy and the environment that require new technologies that will sustain the planet yet meet the needs of a robust society. Many of these challenges require expertise in converting raw materials, including the biomass feedstocks and the burgeoning supply of natural gas, to transportation fuels and intermediates, without compromising the environment. The theme of this symposium is to capture the essential role that chemical reaction engineering (CRE) plays in addressing these challenges. NASCRE 3 will feature communications of recent research on CRE fundamentals, enabling technologies, and advanced materials for advanced fossil fuel recovery and refining methods, environmental technologies for mobile and stationary sources, advanced power generation devices, and biomass conversion to fuel and chemicals. NASCRE 3 complements the International Symposiums on Chemical Reaction Engineering (ISCRE), held every two years at alternating venues in North America, Europe, and Asia. NASCRE 3 occurs at the midpoint between ISCRE meetings held in North America, and in so doing ensures that reaction engineering researchers stay well connected. NASCRE 3 will include plenary lectures on current topics, oral and poster presentations, two workshops on computational methods in theoretical catalysis and reaction and transport systems, and plenty of opportunity for individual discussions. The proceedings will be published as a special issue of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (IECR). With the central theme being energy, environmental, and the fundamentals of chemical reaction engineering, participation in this symposium is to convey to young investigators the many exciting intellectual challenges in the field. The presentations and interactions will expose them to innovations and should inspire them to synthesize their own ideas, which are central to further developments in the above-mentioned industries.

Broader Impact: The knowledge generated by the CRE community is central to the continuing success of various industries and the US economy. Over the past few years, there is the feeling that the CRE community has been shrinking, e.g., as evidenced by the rather small number of junior faculty. NSF support for up to 100 NASCRE participants will provide a vehicle to increase attendance of young investigators including people from underrepresented groups, and continue the CRE mission. To further increase impact, NASCRE 3 will disseminate information through its web site and a dedicated IECR issue of accepted papers and plenary perspectives.

Project Report

The field of chemical reaction engineering (CRE) is a core area of the chemical engineering discipline and plays a vital role in economic vitality and growth. Research developments in and the practice of CRE is essential to the chemical and energy industry, whether it is in the production or use of energy, in chemicals manufacturing, clean transportation, environmental technology or sustainability. This NSF-sponsored project provided support to young investigators to participate in NASCRE-3, the 3rd North American Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering, held March 17-20, 2013 in Houston, Texas. The theme of NASCRE-3 was "Chemical Reaction Engineering for a Sustainable Future: Addressing New Challenges and Revisiting Persistent Problems in Energy, Environmental, and Chemicals Research." The meeting brought together leading scientists and engineers to exchange the latest research progress in CRE. The program comprised 3 plenary lectures, 12 keynote talks, 66 regular oral presentations, over 60 poster presentations. The conference had about 200 registrants from around the world with a healthy mix of academic and industrial researchers. We were particularly excited about the excellent participation from the next generation of 30 chemical reaction engineers, whose travel expenses were partially defrayed by this NSF grant. NASCRE-3 provided an excellent venue to disseminate research findings in a diverse set of topics within the field of chemical reaction engineering. The intellectual merit of the conference comprised the inspiring, educational talks that encouraged lively discussions and interactions. Two workshops were offered to conference registrants, one on computational transport and reaction and the other on computational catalysis. The workshops were well attended, and judging from the presentations, these tools have already begun to transform the field of CRE. Lastly, we had the great pleasure of presenting the Neal R. Amundson Award for Excellence in Chemical Reaction Engineering to Professor Lanny Schmidt from the University of Minnesota. Lanny’s influence on the CRE community is perhaps best highlighted by the research presentations contributed by his former students in both academia and industry at NASCRE-3. Finally, many of the research findings will be captured in the form of peer-reviewed articles in an upcoming 2013 issue of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. Clearly, the broader impact of NASCRE-3 is to advance the field of chemical reaction engineering through presentations of research and discussion of new ideas among experts in the field, and to provide a set of archived works in the permanent literature.

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University of Houston
United States
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