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Innovation at Sasol

Sasol has been a frontrunner in technological innovation and excellence since our inception in the 1950s.  For over 60 years, we have developed and commercialised innovative energy-related technologies, first with coal as a feedstock, then with gas and, into the future, with renewable energy sources. 

As market needs and expectations have changed, so our services and products have developed to reflect the spirit of the age and the needs of the day.  To deliver the fundamental understanding and technical opportunities to safeguard the group’s sustainable growth and profitable operation, we have to continually ensure that our research facilities and systems are of the highest standards.  Currently, Sasol’s strong intellectual property portfolio includes in excess of 500 registered patent families.

The spirit of innovation that has powered our business extends from our technological core to all aspects of managing a sustainable business. So whether it is innovating to improve the efficiency of our foundation businesses, and thereby to manage our environmental footprint, or how we manage the other resources on which our business depends – capital, people, society – an innovative approach that works in practice is our hallmark.

Within Group Technology we have a dedicated research and development (R&D) team of more than 600 people, with over a third of them holding doctorates or masters in engineering and science.  Over the past 10 years, this team has been granted 210 patent families.

Most of our researchers are based at Sasolburg, where our state-of-the-art facility includes sophisticated laboratories and analytical equipment, pilot plants, maintenance workshops and a library. We also operate a R&D centre at Secunda. These two hubs are complemented by research teams in Enschede, The Netherlands and at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Group Technology has expertise (both in-house and external) in the following technology areas:

  • Syngas generation: including analysis and characterisation of coal and coal gasification.
  • Sasol Hydrocarbon Synthesis (Sasol HCS): including catalyst development, slurry phase reactor technology and operations, fluidised bed reactor technology and operations, process scale-up, and advanced macro-kinetic and selectivity modelling.
  • Refinery technologies: including processing of syncrude, hydrocracking, isomerisation and oligiomerisation (Catpoly).
  • Chemical technologies: including ligand and catalyst design, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, separations technology, hydroformylation, ethylene oligiomerisation and paraffin activation.
  • Analytical technologies: including advanced analysis of hydrocarbon synthesis streams, atomic scale resolution characterisation of catalysts, molecular modelling of catalysts, application and development of statistical methodologies for process monitoring and experimental design.
  • Environmental science and engineering: including water and waste water processing, atmospheric modelling and solid waste handling.
  • Alternative energy: including the processing of terrestrial biomass as well as an emerging competence in concentrated solar, photovoltaics and energy storage.
  • Support services: including design and execution of small projects, operation of pilot-scale and semi-commercial pilot plant units covering a wide range of technologies, advanced process control systems and process safety management.
  • Fuels Technology includes product applications research and plant/market product technical services on a range of products including transport fuels (petrol, diesel and jet fuel), industrial heating fuels, lubricants, gas, and road binding materials. Areas of expertise include new product and application development, product fit for purpose testing, alternative fuel development and certification, combustion research, exhaust emission testing, fuels blending, the interaction of fuels with fuel systems, and problem solving. 

focus on Group Technology R&D 2013

The inaugural R&D review entitled focus on GroupTechnology R&D 2013 has been released!