The Sappi Southern Africa Technology Centre is home to our exceptional research and development teams. For over five decades it has helped create, develop and produce our high-end products. With over 50 highly skilled technicians and scientists, it’s still at the forefront of technological R&D to this day.
Starting life as Sappi’s Research and Development (R&D) facility, the SSA Technology Centre was established at Enstra Mill – Sappi’s first South African paper mill – in 1959. Comprising eight chemists, the original laboratory team carried out routine tests on paper and conducted research into pulping, bleaching and effluent control.
By 2004, Sappi had grown into a global entity and the R&D Centre had outgrown its home at Enstra Mill. A new, state-of-the-art Technology Centre was built at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria – where Sappi is the anchor tenant. The SSA Technology Centre has become known as a centre of excellence in pulping and refining.
During its 50-plus years of research and development, the SSA Technology Centre has been responsible for a number of historic milestones. Some of the highlights include:
As we continue to invest in R&D and expand Sappi’s product portfolio as part of our 2020Vision, we envisage the centre achieving many more benchmarks in years to come.
In addition to serving Sappi’s own paper mills, the SSA Technology Centre also works with external clients – offering the analytical skills and expertise of our technicians and scientists, as well as our state-of-the-art laboratories.
The Paper and Box Testing Laboratory, for example, can be used to conduct a wide range of ISO and TAPPI paper and paperboard tests. Over the years it has also developed its own proprietary specialised inhouse testing in paper and paperboard. Among its external clients, the centre has a long history of working alongside South Africa’s citrus industry, providing box compression strength (BCT) measurements for Sappi clients.
Date | Milestone
1959 R&D established
1964 Kraft pulping of bagasse developed
1965 Kraft pulping of pine developed
1970 Commercial oxygen bleaching initiated at Enstra Mill, followed by Ngodwana Mill
1972 NSSC (Neutral sulphite semi-chemical) pulping of hardwoods established at Tugela Mill
1974 DAF treatment for effluent introduced at Adamas Mill
1977 Anti-fungal soap wrap developed
1978 Soda AQ (Anthraquinone) pulping process developed for Enstra Mill
1987 Near Infra Red Spectroscopy measurement of wood and pulp properties introduced
1988 Enstra Mill switched to alkaline sizing
1998 SANAS ISO 17025 accreditation
2000 Fibre typing of wood species at Ngodwana and Saiccor Mills
2005 New bleach sequence for Stanger Mill introduced
2006 Centre of excellence in pulping and refining established
2009 SA passport development
2011 PHK (pre-hydrolysis kraft) pulping of eucalyptus, aspen and maple species developed
2013 First commercial use of enzymes at Saiccor Mill in extractives treatment