SSA Technology Centre

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.

From humble beginnings

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.

Moving on

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.

50 years of results

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:

  • the development of oxygen bleaching in 1970
  • the creation of the world’s most secure passport paper in 2009
  • the production of dissolving pulp from Eucalypts using the pre-hydrolysis kraft process in 2011, and
  • the use of enzymes to control extractives in a sulphite mill in 2013.

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.

Working together

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.

SSA Technology Centre timeline: 1959 to present

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

Please contact us for more information about the Sappi Technology Centre:
Dr Nelson Sefara
General Manager
+27 (0)12 844 9479
Michelle Allaway
Administration Manager
+27 (0)12 844 9441
Physical address
1 Sydney Brenner Street
The Innovation Hub
0087 Pretoria
South Africa
GPS Coordinates
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