ESA invests €1.5m in Clonmel

Enbio, ESA investment
Pictured: John O'Donoghue, Enbio with Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation Damien English and Yves Bonnefous, ESA

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14 April 2015 | 0

The European Space Agency is investing €1.5 million in a Clonmel, Co Tipperary-based company to develop ‘sunscreen for space vessels’ in perparation for its Solar Orbiter mission in 2017.

Enbio’s new centre of excellence will produce surface treatments to cope with the harsh conditions of outer space such as extreme cold and radiation.

The investment is expected to create 12 jobs by 2016 and is supported by Enterprise Ireland.

Enbio’s coatings will protect all of the sun facing surfaces of the ESA Solar Orbiter satellite allowing scientists to get closer to the sun than any previous mission and making Enbio’s coating the closest man-made object to the Sun.

In its Space Technologies Centre, Enbio will use its patented CoBlast technology platform to produce a unique SolarBlack surface for deployment on critical internal and external surfaces of the satellite.

CoBlast replaces the oxide layer of a metal – typically aluminium or titanium – with a thin surface which fuses to the metal in a single, environmentally friendly process step, requiring no chemicals or thermal input.

A complementary high-termperature reflective coating, SolarWhite, has also been developed using the platform.

Enbio CEO and CoBlast inventor John O’Donoghue said: “[Enbio is] ESA’s fastest adopted hardware ever, setting new records for getting a technology from concept to flight qualified… We are proud to bring a high-tech investment into Ireland given that we are a small company, and we will continue to develop our surface enhancement technology to solve unmet needs for space and beyond.”

Enbio’s coatings combine extreme thermal and ultra-violet radiation stability, robustness and electrical conductivity characteristics, providing satellites with a robust protective surface.

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