Director's Comments2013 Annual Report

I am pleased to report that the financial status of the ACS Petroleum Research Fund (PRF) continued to improve in 2013. As of December 31, 2013, the value of the Fund is more than $520 million, which is an increase of $47 million compared to the end of 2012. Moreover, the ACS PRF Reserve fund increased to a new record high of $26.4 million! In 2013, ACS PRF funded 198 research grants totaling $18.5 million. We are grateful to the community of scientific and engineering reviewers who voluntarily provided the external peer reviews that helped our Advisory Board members in their evaluation of the proposals. Taken all together, this has enabled us to fund the excellent research described in the progress reports on this website.

However, in the past few years, we have noticed increasing numbers of proposals on topics that are outside the scope of the PRF Trust and the Agreement of Transfer of Trust. Under the terms of the agreement which created the PRF Trust, the ACS Petroleum Research Fund may support only "advanced scientific education and fundamental research in the 'petroleum field'," with the term 'petroleum field' defined as "petroleum, natural gas, coal, shale, tar sands and like materials." Thus, research grant proposals submitted to ACS PRF must be on fundamental studies of fossil-fuel hydrocarbons.

As indicated on our website (, the Advisory Board views ACS PRF research grants as "seed money" to enable a Principal Investigator to initiate a new research direction – one in which the PI has neither published nor received financial support from another funding agency. Furthermore, proposals that the Advisory Board feels are a logical extension of an investigator’s previous research will also be denied as "not a new direction." In addition, proposals may also be withdrawn if the proposals are deemed uncompetitive and/or incomplete.

To make optimum use of the finite number of potential peer experts capable of providing anonymous peer reviews, the ACS PRF Advisory Board has ruled that proposals that are outside the scope of ACS PRF will be eliminated from consideration without external peer review. The Advisory Board does not want to burden our reviewers with proposals that cannot be considered for funding.

An analysis of the proposals withdrawn from competition during 2013 indicates the following reasons for withdrawal of a proposal prior to review:

  • 31% incomplete, budget issues, or other problems making the proposal uncompetitive
  • 26% not petroleum-relevant
  • 22% not fundamental (applied/developmental research)
  • 21% not a new research direction

We update our website regularly to provide current information on research areas considered by each committee of the ACS PRF Advisory Board, as well as a listing of research topics that are not supported by ACS PRF. I encourage anyone considering whether to submit a grant proposal to ACS PRF to carefully read the information available there. If you are still uncertain after consulting our website, please contact the appropriate Program Manager, before taking the time to write a proposal which may be uncompetitive, or outside the "petroleum field" as defined in our founding documents. A list of our Program Managers, and the research areas that they manage, is found at the "Contact PRF" link.

In this annual report you can read about the innovative research funded by ACS PRF in 2013 and previous years, which was conducted by principal investigators and their students throughout the United States and other countries. Thank you for your interest in the ACS Petroleum Research Fund.

Ronald E. Siatkowski, PhD
ACS Petroleum Research Fund