Fellow Profile

See All Fellows




Heating and Cooling


Berkeley, CA



Drew Lilley

CEO and Co-Founder, Calion Technologies

Drew Lilley joins Breakthrough Energy’s Innovator Fellows program from Calion Technologies in Berkeley, California. Drew is a thermal scientist specializing in heat transfer and thermodynamics and has extensive experience with various energy storage and non-vapor compression cooling technologies. As CEO and co-founder, he focuses on the full-R&D pipeline and product vision for the commercialization of Calion’s ionocaloric cooling technology.

Refrigerants used in current cooling technologies have extremely high global warming potential. By 2050, refrigerant emissions are expected to account for a sizable fraction of equivalent global CO2 emissions, and scientists have yet to identify a viable alternative. Calion eliminates the need for refrigerants with its solid-to-liquid based cooling technology and uses non-toxic, non-hazardous, and non-flammable materials to make cooling safe, clean, and inexpensive. Through the Breakthrough Energy Fellows program, Calion seeks to complete a full-scale prototype and demonstrate that their ionocaloric cooling technology operates at higher efficiencies and lower costs than air conditioners and heat pumps on the market today.

Drew earned his Bachelor of Arts in physics, Bachelor of Science in engineering, and Master of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Doctor of Philosophy in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
If the journey is not the destination, the destination is not worth the journey. To me, it’s just a gentle reminder to check in and make sure that I’m still having fun!

What is your favorite word and why?
Serendipity, because it’s kind of like a “fortune favors the bold” meets “luck of the draw.” It’s a favorable chance occurrence that has flavors of intention, design, and preparation. In a way, it signals “deserved-luck,” and I love when someone that works hard and deserves the best outcomes “just” happens to get them!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A hands-on-the-ground, greasy-grimy-garage style tinkerer. New day, new project. Until I took a physics class and became a theorist…