12 new jobs ‘making sunscreen for satellites’ at ENBIO facility funded through €1.5M European Space Agency contract
John O’Donoghue CEO ENBIO explains to Damien English T.D. Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation and Yves Bonnefous, Solar Orbiter Project Manager at the European Space Agency how ENBIO technology will coat the solar orbiter with its unique SolarBlack surface to protect it from the heat of the sun at the opening of ENBIOs manufacturing facility in Clonmel.
The new facility has been funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is ENBIO’s centre of excellence for the development and production of Thermal Management treatments or ‘sunscreen technology’ for satellites, spacecraft, and space related hardware.
Opening the facility, Minister English said “ENBIO has achieved remarkable success during its four year development programme with the European Space Agency (ESA), which has brought over €1.5M in ESA funding to Clonmel in addition to creating up to 12 new jobs in 2015 and into 2016. I congratulate the team at ENBIO and commend Enterprise Ireland for assisting the company to secure the €1.5M contract from the European Space Agency”.
Minister English also said that “In 2015 Ireland celebrates 40 years as an active and proud member State of ESA and ENBIO’s success in this field and its involvement in the exciting Solar Orbiter mission is a fitting reflection of the ultra high-technology capabilities developed by the Irish Space Sector”.
The new facility will enable ENBIO to produce the next generation of surface treatments to cope with the harsh conditions of Outer Space. The Clonmel facility will produce proprietary surface treatments to protect vital parts of the ESA Solar Orbiter satellite due to launch in 2017.
ENBIO’s coatings will protect all of the sun facing surfaces of the ESA 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 technology platform, CoBlast, invented by company CEO John O’Donoghue, to produce a unique “SolarBlack” surface, which it will then deploy 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.
ENBIO’s CEO John O’Donoghue said that “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! We are proud to bring a hi-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”.
A complementary ceramic surface, “SolarWhite”, a next-generation, high temperature reflective white coating, has also been developed by ENBIO and the facility has been designed to produce both coatings for space applications.
ENBIO’s coatings uniquely combine extreme thermal and ultra-violet radiation stability, robustness and electrical conductivity characteristics. ENBIO will provide satellites with a more robust surface than is currently available to counter the intense solar radiation encountered in space, thus better protecting satellites and their payloads for the duration of their missions.
The contract was secured through Ireland’s membership of ESA which is managed by Enterprise Ireland. Tony McDonald, Enterprise Ireland’s Space Technologies Programme Manager said that ENBIO is “one of a growing number of highly innovative Irish technology companies securing ESA contracts with the active support of Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation”. The total number of Irish companies currently, or recently, active in ESA programmes is almost 50 and growing,