In response to the pressing energy insecurities and environmental challenges faced by South Africa, a collective effort involving the government, private sector, civil society, and communities is underway to develop and implement comprehensive interventions and policies. These initiatives aim to address the country’s energy challenges while prioritizing sustainability and long-term solutions.
To actively contribute to these efforts, Sasol and the National Research Foundation (NRF) joined forces in 2022 to provide funding for a group of Research Chairs and Postdoctoral Fellows. Their primary objective is to conduct research in clean and sustainable energy, fostering innovation and developing new approaches, knowledge, practices, and tools to tackle energy-related issues and environmental concerns while exploring potential opportunities.
The Research Chair program is part of a broader initiative aimed at attracting and retaining research and innovation excellence at South African public universities. To kick-start this collaborative endeavour, a recent event took place in Sasolburg, Free State from June 27-28, 2023, where participating researchers shared their insights and experiences, fostering collaboration and synergies with the support of Sasol’s technical expertise.
These research activities are strategically aligned with national objectives outlined in the Department of Science and Innovation’s White Paper on Science, Technology, and Innovation, as well as the Hydrogen Society Roadmap. These national ambitions prioritize advancing the hydrogen economy and sector development. Additionally, the partnership aims to cultivate industry knowledge, foster innovation, and develop skills for the postdoctoral fellows involved.
Dr. Sepo Hachigonta, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the NRF, expressed excitement about their role in supporting and developing industry-focused research and industry-ready professionals to address energy challenges in South Africa and the region. Dr. Molise Mokhadinyana, Acting Vice President of Science Research at Sasol Research and Technology, emphasized the collaborative nature of the Sasol-NRF partnership, aiming to elevate the country’s knowledge generation, innovation, and skill development to new heights. This collaboration aims to create an environment conducive to the flourishing of ideas and creativity, leading to breakthroughs that will benefit society as a whole.
The Sasol-NRF Research Chairs focus on Energy and Power Systems Modelling, as well as Green Hydrogen, aiming to strengthen research and innovation capacity at public universities and attract and retain excellence within the energy sector. Simultaneously, the Postdoctoral Innovation Programme Fellowships aim to develop long-term capacity in energy transition and sustainability at Sasol’s research facilities in Sasolburg, with a duration of up to two years. The program encompasses various research areas, including Green Hydrogen, Energy Storage, Waste Utilization for a Circular Economy, Air Quality Assessment, Fischer-Tropsch Catalysis for Power-to-Liquids Applications, and In-situ Characterization of Catalysts.
Sasol and the NRF will continue to collaborate on tailored programs to support outstanding research that provides scientific solutions to South Africa’s energy crisis.