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2024 Power 100: Donald Young

A man in a suit Photo | Courtesy of Aspen Aerogels Donald Young, president and CEO of Aspen Aerogels
Donald Young Title President & CEO Company Aspen Aerogels, in Northborough Employees 548 Residence Brookline College Harvard University Read all the Power 100 profiles here
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The future of the transportation industry is electric, and a Central Massachusetts firm is playing an important role in advancing technology in that transformation.

Aspen Aerogels, led by Donald Young since 2001, creates different products related to thermal barriers and building materials, but a major component of its business is creating components of electric vehicle batteries. Under the leadership of Young, Aspen has made some serious investments into the local economy. In addition to its Northborough headquarters, the company has constructed a 59,000-square-foot engineering and rapid prototyping facility at the site of a former Old Navy store in Marlborough, transfering a retail plaza into a state-of-the-art Advanced Thermal Barrier Center.

The company’s technology plays a major role in preventing thermal runaway, a chain reaction of overheating within batteries potentially causing catastrophic results. High-profile fires involving electric vehicles have hindered public acceptance of this still-evolving technology, so preventing bad publicity for the world’s leading EV firms is key in helping the market grow. The Marlborough facility allows major manufacturers to work with the firm’s engineers directly, helping prevent future calamities, while Aspen is near completion of a $575-million facility in Georgia.

Even as the company looks to the future of energy technology, it plays a role in the oil and natural gas industries, as the firm’s technology is used in 30% of the world’s 640 oil refineries, as well as natural gas facilities operated by ExxonMobil and others.

It has not always been smooth sailing, as the company has dealt with losses during the coronavirus pandemic and battles with foreign companies over patents, but doing important work in a cutting-edge field has paid dividends; Aspen Aerogel saw $238 million in revenue in 2023, a 32% year-over-year increase.

Read all the Power 100 profiles here.

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