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Catalysis Looks to the Future
funding of local universities as a means of encouraging strong partnerships. In addition, for young investigators, the Presidential Young Investigators program also offers the possibility of matching funds from NSF, resulting in a potential 3:1 leveraging. It should be noted, however, that at present, the total level of industrial support for academic research is very low (3%) compared to that provided by federal agencies.
The Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories represent a major resource for conducting research and development. These laboratories receive $6 billion per year from DOE and employ more than 5% of the nation's research workers. Although in the past a major fraction of the programs conducted at the national laboratories have been defense related, an increasing proportion is now devoted to energy production, environmental protection, health, and the improvement of economic competitiveness.
Research on catalysis or closely related subjects is carried out at each of the eight national laboratories. The objectives of this work encompass the development of novel instrumentation for in situ and ex situ characterization of catalysts, studies of fundamental processes occurring on catalyst surfaces, and the elucidation of catalyst-function relationships. Examples of new approaches developed by researchers at national laboratories include special high-pressure and low-pressure chambers for the characterization of practical catalysts by using surface-analytical techniques, novel optical methods exhibiting high surface specificity (e.g., second harmonic generation, sum frequency generation), and novel methods for in situ characterization of catalysts by infrared, Raman, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies.
Support by DOE through national and other laboratories has also been responsible for the design, construction, and operation of major user facilities such as the synchrotron light sources at Stanford University, Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; the pulsed neutron source at Argonne National Laboratory; and the National Electron Microscopy Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Use of these facilities is available to researchers from academe and industry, as well as those working at the national laboratories themselves.
At present, DOE provides about $14 million annually to support catalysis research at the national laboratories. This constitutes approximately 50% of the total DOE support for catalysis research. It should be noted that at the Ames National Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which have close ties to Iowa State University and to the University of California at Berkeley, respectively, most of the research on catalysis is carried out by graduate students working under the direction of a faculty member.