Irish SME cleaning up space metal secures €1.5m in EU funding

5 Sep 2017

Illustration of the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, which uses Enbio’s CoBlast technology. Image: ESA/AOES

An Irish SME trying to clean up the metal-coating industry has secured EU funding to take its technology from space back down to Earth.

With offices in Dublin and Clonmel, Co Tipperary, Enbio has secured €1.52m in funding under the EU’s Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 scheme, in order to develop a green alternative to the toxic chemicals necessary to coat metals.

Having already worked with the European Space Agency to provide protective coatings for its Solar Orbiter spacecraft, the company has revealed that this new funding will begin with expanding its reach in space, and will also allow it to find Earth-based applications.

Enbio’s product CoBlast works as a chemical replacement metal treatment that eliminates the use of hazardous chemicals in the metallurgy process, placing it ahead of many international performance requirements.

Under the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation, companies have been tasked with reducing the number of hazardous chemical treatments, which are widely used to prepare metal surfaces for bonding or coating in the space sector.

‘Momentum to help change the world’

Once Enbio has proven its process in the space sector, it said it plans to extend the technology to applications on Earth, to help clean up the coatings sector across numerous industries and the thousands of acres of metal requiring protection from the elements.

Speaking of the new funding, Dr Paolo Fiorini, head of operations of Enbio, said: “We are thrilled to have been granted this funding to accelerate CoBlast for adhesive bonding for the space sector and beyond. The sunset dates are fast approaching and Enbio are dedicated in offering a solution.”

From a commercial standpoint, Enbio’s general manager, Dr Kevin O’Flynn, added: “Receiving the SME instrument funding is an enormous boost for Enbio. It validates the potential of our technology and gives us the momentum to help change the world for the better through greener coatings – both in space and back here on Earth.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic