catalytic processes, and on using such understanding for the design of new catalysts for major new process opportunities;

  1. continue the development of novel instrumentation for in situ studies of catalysts and catalytic phenomena;

  2. place greater emphasis on the systematic synthesis of new classes of materials of potential interest as catalysts; and

  3. investigate novel catalytic approaches to the production of energy (e.g., light-assisted catalytic splitting of water), the selective synthesis of commodity and fine chemicals, and the protection of the environment.


The principal sources of funding for university and national laboratory research on catalysis are the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). As noted in Chapter 4, constant-dollar funding from these agencies, together with inflation and rising overhead costs, has caused a decrease in the number of young scientists being educated in the field of catalysis. The panel also observes that with the decline in emphasis on alternative fuels, research in catalysis has become increasingly diversified and less aligned along national interests. To offset these trends, the panel recommends that federal agencies:

  1. establish mechanisms for reviewing their programs related to catalysis, to ensure that they are balanced and responsive to the needs of the nation and to the opportunities for accelerating progress;

  2. encourage industry to assist the funding agencies in identifying important fundamental problems that must be solved to facilitate the translation of new discoveries into viable products and processes; assessment of the fundamental research needs of industry should be communicated to all members of the catalysis community; and

  3. increase the level of federal funding in support of catalysis research by at least a factor of two (after correction for inflation) over the next five years. This recommendation is consistent with the Bush administration's proposal to double the NSF budget over the next five years and with a recent statement by Frank Press, president of the National Academy of Sciences, that doubling the research budgets of all federal agencies should be a goal for the 1990s. Recognizing the need for federal agencies to maintain flexibility and to encourage creative scientists who propose to explore new directions and ideas, the panel recommends that priority be given to the following five areas:

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