Wai Fen YONG, Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (Malaysia)

Wai Fen Yong

Wai Fen Yong is using her background in developing polymeric membranes to create a greener means of converting organic wastes into usable, value-added biogases. She takes a multidisciplinary approach by engaging in the economic and policy aspects of the implementation of her findings.

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE

Research focus: developing sustainable materials and membrane technologies for biogas separation, industrial air purification, haze removal and air quality control

In an urban area like Singapore, sustainability takes on a unique set of challenges in sequestering clean energy sources and managing wastes effectively under distinct spatial constraints. One of the leading approaches to tackling both problems is to find ways to convert wastes into eco-friendly, value-added biogases. An important component of converting organic waste products into usable biogas is to chemically remove any contaminants. In her research, Yong is discovering new and improved ways to perform the process of gas separation, which have fewer drawbacks than traditional methods.

Specifically, Yong is using her molecular knowledge of membranes to develop gas separation mechanisms that produce fewer waste products, use less energy and ultimately leave a lower carbon footprint. Her work in designing and fabricating novel membranes for efficient gas separation has the potential to enrich green energy production in significant ways, particularly in urban areas such as Singapore. Yong extends her expertise to the fields of economics and policy as she works to implement her membrane-based techniques at the industrial level.

Yong earned her PhD from the National University of Singapore in 2014. She has received multiple other prestigious recognitions for her contributions to the fields of chemical and biomolecular engineering including the Elias Klein Travel Award and Emerging Polymer Technologies Summit Travel Award from the North American Membrane Society and The International Innovative Research Network and CSIRO, Australia, respectively. Yong now works as a postdoctoral fellow at her alma mater where she researches membrane development. She has also authored many publications and holds patents for her groundbreaking work.

The jury was impressed not only with Yong’s dedication to finding creative innovations for converting waste into biofuels in environmentally sustainable ways, but also with her willingness to be part of the implementation process at every step of the way.