S. African fuel giant & university form alliance
Johannesburg-based Sasol Limited and the University of St Andrews have today (Wednesday 23 January 2002) announced an alliance to enhance catalyst research, creating around 25 new jobs in Fife.
Sasol will establish a research laboratory at the University to undertake research into homogeneous catalysis, a process of making chemicals faster, cheaper and greener, leading to chemical feedstocks for plastics, detergents and other commercial products.
The University and Invest in Fife, a partnership of Scottish Enterprise Fife and Fife Council, beat off stiff competition to persuade Sasol to locate in Scotland rather than elsewhere in the UK or Europe. A boost to the local and national economy, the initiative, which will be fully operational in summer 2002, has been welcomed by industry leaders.
Speaking on behalf of Invest In Fife, Joe Noble, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise Fife, said the prestigious development would further boost the University’s reputation – “The inward investment market is changing and this project is a good example of how both Fife and Scotland is maximising the benefits from its intellectual capital. This flagship development further endorses the University of St Andrews as a significant centre for scientific research.”
Professor Mike Green, manager of the homogeneous catalysis group at the Sasol Technology Research and Development division in Sasolburg said, “Competency levels in homogenous catalysis in South Africa are not meeting the requirements of Sasol. A world- class homogeneous catalyst research group is already in existence at the University of St Andrews which will provide Sasol with consultation opportunities and gives the company access to superior analytical facilities in this important research field.” Professor Green added that the venture is directly linked to Sasol’s corporate objective of globalisation and growth.
It will cost around £1.5 million to construct and equip the laboratory, to be known as the Sasol Technology Research Laboratory, St Andrews, which will be part of a larger catalyst centre including new labs for University catalyst research funded by the Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF). The partnership will ultimately create around 25 new posts, including PhD trained Chemists, and the University’s School of Chemistry will render a range of services to the laboratory.
Professor David Cole-Hamilton of the University’s School of Chemistry said, “Professor David Cole-Hamilton of the School of Chemistry said, “This is a very exciting development at the interface between industry and academia. The School of Chemistry at St Andrews has about 20 people doing research in homogeneous catalysis, collaborating with a variety of industries. To have a similar size industrial group working nearby us will give the critical mass to justify more essential equipment and other support. The two groups will remain independent, but synergy will develop which will greatly enhance the work in both groups through sharing of equipment, collaboration and the development of commercialisation pathways.”
Meanwhile, Dr Brian Lang, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University said, “I strongly welcome this new collaboration between the University and the major multi-national company Sasol which is an endorsement of the top- level contribution which the University’s scientific expertise is able to make to UK economic competitiveness, recently recognised in every science unit in the University receiving a top rating in the recent UK-wide Research Assessment Exercise”
NOTE TO EDITORS
For further information, please contact:
University of St Andrews Claire Grainger Tel ++1334-462529/462530 Email [email protected]
Sasol Alfonso Niemand, PR Tel +27-11-4413218
Professor Mike Green Tel +27-16-9602906
Scottish Enterprise Fife Alan Garland Tel ++ 1592 623085 Email [email protected]
Sasol, established in 1950, is a world-leader in the commercial production of liquid fuels and chemicals from coal and crude oil. The company has a turnover of more than US$6-billion per year and is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange (SOL) with a market capitalisation of more than US$5-billion and on NASDAQ (SASOY) in New York. Sasol manufactures more than 200 fuel and chemical products at its plants in Sasolburg and Secunda in South Africa as well as at several other plants abroad. Its products are exported to more than 90 countries around the world. The company has developed world-leading technology for the commercial production of synthetic fuels and chemicals from low-grade coal as well as the conversion of natural gas to environment-friendly diesel and chemicals. Internet address: http://www.sasol.com. Catalyst research focuses on the formulation and behaviour of compounds to promote certain chemical reactions. Sasol’s Fischer-Tropsch processes for the conversion of synthesis gas to liquid fuels and chemicals rely very heavily on the application of suitable catalysts to enhance the reaction rate and selectivity of these chemical reactions. Homogeneous catalysis utilises soluble transition metal catalysts in a liquid phase reaction as opposed to the conventional heterogeneous catalysts which are generally based on a supported solid catalyst in a gas phase reaction at high temperatures and pressures. It has the advantages of generally milder operating conditions, far more selective reactions and very high catalyst activity.