ILLINOIS SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY CENTER
REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR FY12
The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, promotes sustainability through resource conservation,
pollution prevention, and research efforts. The Center’s current research activities are focused on industrial
pollution prevention, energy conservation, biofuels, and water quality, use, and reuse. In pursuit of its mission,
ISTC administers a Research Grant Program which provides funds to universities, industrial groups, not-for-
profit organizations, and the consulting community to advance the state of knowledge in areas of sustainability,
pollution prevention, energy generation and conservation, and environmental issues of importance to the State.
Usually six to ten new research projects receive funding each year, depending on monies available, the strength
and relevance of the proposals, and importance to the most pressing sustainability problems in Illinois.
Each of ISTC’s new funding cycles begins with a focused solicitation identifying issues of special interest to the
State. Pre-proposals are being requested at this time for funding in FY12. Pre-proposals are due to ISTC by
January 19, 2011. They will be screened internally based on factors such as relevance to the solicitation,
research objectives, adequacy of methods and techniques to achieve them, and qualifications of researchers to
carry out the proposed work. Successful pre-proposal applicants will be notified by February 10, 2011, and asked
to submit a full proposal by March 23, 2011. Notification of funding will be made by the end of May 2011.
Pre-proposals are being sought in the following areas of interest:
AREAS OF INTEREST
I. Sustainable Energy Research - Alternative & Non-conventional Energy Resources
• Geothermal Resource Development in Illinois
Geothermal heat pump systems (GHPs) based on ground water sources are highly energy efficient
for space heating or cooling. Open-loop GHPs differ from ground source GHPs where the heat
exchange is with the earth. Where hydro-geologic circumstances permit the sustainable application
of ground water source GHPs, utilizations of open-loop GHPs become more-cost effective and end
users may realize significant energy savings.
Proposals are sought for projects that will facilitate geothermal resource development in Illinois, or
portions of Illinois, for potential applications of ground water source GHPs.
• Advanced Hybrid Energy Systems
Hybrid Energy Systems (HES) combine different energy resources to meet the energy requirements
of a building or a district. When these energy resources are integrated, HES overcome the
limitations inherent in each individual source. A hybrid renewable energy system may reduce
dependency on fossil fuels and reduce atmospheric emissions.
Proposals are expected to focus on:
o Advanced integrated energy systems that use some or all of the following: geothermal heat
pumps; solar energy (solar PV, solar thermal, and passive solar); biofuels; and wind power.
New concepts and state-of-the-art technology are especially welcome.
o Utilization of HES for an energy-efficient building or district system, with an ultimate goal
of realizing climate neutrality
o Optimization of the whole system including energy system design, optimal control of energy
systems, as well as smart building design that makes better use of renewable energy
Biochar, produced by the pyrolysis of biomass and used as a soil amendment, has potential to
sequester carbon, improve soil quality, reduce nutrient application, and prevent pesticide leaching.
The reduction in nutrient application will result in reduced energy usage. Several open questions
remain regarding the efficacy of biochar under different soil conditions, its role in the nitrogen cycle,
its effect on microbial ecology, and even the mechanisms by which it exerts its beneficial effects.
Moreover, questions have been raised as to the residual level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
(PAHs) or other compounds in biochar produced under a variety of manufacturing conditions and
whether its introduction into the environment poses a risk to the food chain.
Proposals submitted under this topic should focus on the establishment of an integrated research
approach encompassing biochar production, characterization, and field application with a specific
focus on PAH residues and their potential transfer to the food chain.
II. Sustainable Water Use
Water use in Illinois is approximately 20 billion gallons/day and expected to increase 28% by 2025.
Supplies such as ground and surface water are projected to experience additional demands as
withdrawals from Lake Michigan are capped.
Proposals for reducing or reusing water or making water suitable for reuse in industrial, agricultural, or
commercial sectors are especially welcome. Some topics that are of special interest are:
• Emerging Contaminants and Water Reuse
Use of reclaimed water for agricultural, industrial, and/or landscape applications is a critical
component of a sustainable water use framework. Sources such as concentrated animal feeding
operation wastewater and municipal/domestic treated wastewater often contain trace contaminants
such as pharmaceuticals and additives that may be impediments to reuse without careful assessment,
monitoring, and control.
Proposals that address the quantitation of contaminants and treatment of water in settings that are
expected to have a small number of readily identified contaminants, but with large water usage, are
• Water Use and Bioenergy
The production of ethanol from corn/lignocellulosic materials or distillates through thermochemical
conversion routes require water for processing while producing contaminated wastewater.
Proposals for reducing the need for such water or for characterizing such contaminated water are
III. Electronic Waste
Electronic waste (e-waste) is a growing problem throughout the world. It is estimated that 20 to 50
million tons of potentially toxic trash—computers, cell phones, televisions, and other electronic
devices—are produced annually, much of it ending up in landfills or being improperly recycled. This
buildup of e-waste can lead to potential health risks for people and the environment. E-waste includes a
mixture of many chemicals that cause known adverse health effects alone: lead, mercury, cadmium,
chromium and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Inappropriate handing of e-waste, such as
burning, may produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins and furans.
Proposals are sought that focus on:
• Technology for recycling materials in e-waste in a sustainable manner
• Social aspects of adopting recycling practices/barriers to this; why discard or replace items; what are
the end user's perceptions of purchasing recycled electronics; how to market and package recycled
electronics to the end users in ways that enhance desirability of ownership; unlocking consumer
behavior on why or why not use recycling
• Strategies to reduce e-waste
IV. Miscellaneous Waste Materials/Beneficial Reuse
Proposals targeting utilization of agricultural wastes, industrial wastes, or by-products of energy
production are also welcome.
Eligible Applicants: Researchers associated with both the public and private sectors may apply. Principal
investigators may be from colleges, universities, industry, non-profit organizations, and the consulting
community. Researchers are encouraged to partner across departments, units, colleges, and with external
organizations as appropriate. Collaborative proposals with ISTC staff are also encouraged. In addition to new
projects, proposals to supplement an outside project or additional research for ongoing programs will also be
1. Seed Grants: Up to four grants (maximum $10,000 each) will be awarded. Grants for up to one year will
be considered. The PI should stipulate the duration of the study and note this on the proposal time line.
Research ideas that are linked to future applications for larger funding from state or national sources are
encouraged. Reimbursements will be made following receipt of each quarterly progress report.
2. Regular Grants: Up to six grants (maximum of $25,000 each) will be awarded. Grants to support short-
term (one year) and long-term (two years) studies will be considered. The PI should stipulate the
duration of the study and note this on the proposal time line. Reimbursements will be made following
receipt of each quarterly progress report.
The pre-proposals for this award should contain the following information:
• Title Page which lists:
o Investigators and their affiliations
o Duration (start date September 1, 2011 or after)
o Total Cost, funds requested and any matching funds (matching funds are not required)
• Pre-proposal narrative which (in 2 single-spaced pages or less using 11-point font or greater):
o Outlines the problem – giving the context and specific need
o Summarizes prior research succinctly and describes how what is being proposed is different and
how it advances the state of knowledge. References can be on an additional page and not
counted in the narrative page limit.
o Provides a broad overview of approach and timeline
o Discusses expected results, impacts, or outcomes
• On a separate sheet provide a preliminary budget - Give a brief breakdown of costs, especially
support for any graduate students. (Pre-proposals do not need to include a fully executed budget. The
request for funds must include overhead as required by the institution.)
• Also include a maximum 1-page resume for each investigator demonstrating sufficient expertise and
a history of sponsored-project completion, including publication.
Pre-proposal Evaluation Criteria:
Pre-proposals will be reviewed for the following:
• Does the work fit within the scope of the priority areas?
• Is the work significant?
• Will the anticipated results provide positive impacts and fill gaps in the needed data?
• January 19, 2011 (by 5 pm CST) – Pre-proposals due to ISTC (with preliminary budgets)
• February 10, 2011 - Invitations to submit full proposals. Detailed guidelines for submission of full
proposals will be provided at that time and will also be available on the ISTC web site. Full
proposals will undergo detailed technical reviews by external reviewers as well as internal review.
• March 23, 2011(by 5 pm CST) - Full proposals due to ISTC
• End of May 2011 - Notification of funding
Email an attached electronic copy of the pre-proposal to Nancy Holm at email@example.com.
Please include the PI’s last name in the name of the attached file.
Pre-proposals must be received by 5 pm CST, January 19, 2011.
All questions regarding the program should be directed via email to Nancy Holm at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 217-244-3330.
The mission of ISTC is to make Illinois sustainable. It supports work to conserve natural resources, reduce wastes,
and increase economic vitality by providing Illinois businesses, institutions, and citizens with information, research,
innovative technologies, and technical assistance.