Minister John Halligan with Enbio CEO John O’Donoghue and Tony McDonald, Enterprise Ireland.
A Clonmel-based company has been awarded €1.52 million by the European Commission to develop a green alternative to the toxic chemicals necessary to coat metals.
The work of Gortnafleur-based Enbio, which also has a facility in Dublin, will be focused initially on the space sector but has wide-ranging applications in aerospace, automotive and general industry, as well as public infrastructure and civilian applications.
The company opened its €1.5 million space technology centre in Clonmel two and-a-half years ago. The facility operated by Enbio at Gortnafleur was funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is the company's centre of excellence for the development and production of thermal management treatments, which has also been described as sunscreen technology for satellites.
European environmental legislation (REACH) is reducing the use of hazardous chemical treatments widely used to prepare metal surfaces for bonding or coating in the space sector.
However it is not just the space sector that needs a replacement but any European industry using wet hazardous metal pre-treatments such as chromate conversion processes, which is important to the aerospace, automotive and industries in general.
John Halligan, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation congratulated the company on its success.
He stated, “Enbio is an excellent example of the large numbers of SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) successfully applying to Horizon 2020 (for European Commission funding), giving Ireland the second highest success rate in Europe for the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument with a 13% success rate, compared to a European average of 5.5%”.
Enbio has developed a proven alternative coating process – their patented CoBlast process. The European Commission funding will enable the company to accelerate their development and launch of a chemical replacement metal treatment.
Enbio’s alternative uses no hazardous chemicals and meets or exceeds existing industry standards and performance requirements.
Enbio has already gained significant experience in the space sector with the European Space Agency. The company has provided two protective coatings for the space agency's most advanced spacecraft, Solar Orbiter, one of which will become the closest man-made object to sun.
The company is supported in this work by Enterprise Ireland, who have been pivotal in helping Enbio to position themselves in the space sector.
Once the company has proven its process in the space sector, they plan to extend the technology to applications on earth and help clean up the coatings sector across numerous industries, and the thousands of acres of metal requiring protection from the elements.