Fellow Profile

See All

Gary Ong bio

Project
Celadyne Technologies, Inc.

Sector
Hydrogen

Location
Chicago, IL

Connect
LinkedIn

 

Gary Ong

Founder, Celadyne Technologies, Inc.

Gary joins Breakthrough Energy’s Innovator Fellows from Celadyne Technologies, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. At Celadyne, his team is making the fuel cells and electrolyzers used for hydrogen and electricity generation more compact and efficient via a new proton exchange membrane technology that enables low-humidity and elevated-temperature operation.

His expertise is in materials sciences, nanomaterials, and hydrogen technologies. Gary received a Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in materials science and engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. While studying at Berkley, he conducted concurrent research at The University of Texas at Austin.

Having grown up in Malaysia, he was first alerted to the need of climate-centric technologies when he saw the gradual deforestation in the country first-hand. His interests include scientific innovation, clean tech, writing, swimming, cooking, and playing musical instruments. He like puns, and here’s one of his favorites: Keep Calm and Gary Ong.

Q&A

What problem are you solving for? What are the practical applications of this work?
Current polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) used in fuel cells and electrolysis require hydration for ionic conductivity. This requirement adds cost, size, and complexity to the device. It also prevents improvements in efficiency, durability, and flexibility. In a fuel cell, increasing operation temperature can enable an efficiency increase while improving tolerance to impurities in the air. We are advancing new proton exchange materials that are built upon materials that don’t rely on hydration. These materials will decarbonize the heavy trucking industry and create a market-driven gateway to increase hydrogen production and decrease hydrogen cost for larger CO₂ intensive industries.

Who has had the greatest impact on your career path?
The ophthalmologist that saved me from partial blindness when I was 11. I spent three years after that trying to figure out how one could make an artificial retina and accommodating intraocular lenses. That's how I was introduced to the materials sciences.