Space-tech firm Enbio has opened a €1.5m Space Technology Centre in Clonmel, Co Tipperary in order to further develop its ‘sunscreen technology’ for the European Space Agency (ESA).
The Clonmel Space Technology Centre – which is funded by the ESA – will serve as Enbio’s centre of excellence for the development and production of thermal management treatments to protect satellites, spacecraft and space-related hardware from the harsh conditions of space.
The facility will open up with 12 new roles, contributing to Enbio’s efforts to produce next-generation surface treatments to protect vital parts of the ESA’s Solar Orbiter satellite.
Protecting the Solar Orbiter
The Solar Orbiter will launch in October 2018 and intends to explore the Sun in unprecedented detail. But getting this close to Earth’s fiery star requires extensive protection from extreme thermal conditions and ultra-violet radiation.
CoBlast, Enbio’s patented technology, replaces the oxide layer of a metal (typically aluminium or titanium) with a thin surface that fuses to the metal without the need for chemicals or thermal input. Enbio will use CoBlast to produce a unique ‘SolarBlack’ surface, which it will then apply to critical internal and external surfaces of the Solar Orbiter satellite.
Enbio’s new facility will also produce a complementary ceramic surface dubbed SolarWhite, which will be a next-generation, high-temperature, reflective white coating.
Enbio – a small company with out-of-this-world ambition
In 2012, Enbio secured a €500,000 contract with the ESA for its surface treatments.
“Thanks to the strength of the team at Enbio, we are ESA’s fastest-adopted hardware ever, setting new records for getting a technology from concept to flight-qualified – not bad for a small company!” said CEO John O’Donoghue.
“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.”
The Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, opened the €1.5m Space Technology Centre in Clonmel today (Tuesday 14 April).
“ENBIO has achieved remarkable success during its four-year development programme with the European Space Agency, which has brought more than €1.5m in ESA funding to Clonmel in addition to creating up to 12 new jobs in 2015 and into 2016,” he said.
The €1.5m ESA contract was secured through Ireland’s membership of the International Space Agency, which is managed by Enterprise Ireland.