Sasol, university partner in fuel research

25 May 2010

Research collaboration between Sasol and the University of Pretoria’s department of chemistry and chemical engineering has led to the commissioning of high-tech equipment to gain better insights into the properties and performance of synthetic diesel fuels.

The new LECO Pegasus 4 GCxGC-TOFMS – a comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatograph combined with a time-of-flight mass spectrometer – has been commissioned at the university to gain better insight into the influence of trace components in synthetic diesel, and the application of such fuels in engines, turbines, and other devices.

“The acquisition of this expensive equipment was made possible by financial support from Sasol Technology through joint research interest in the chemistry that underpins the physical properties of diesel fuels,” Sasol in a statement last week.

University collaboration initiative

The initiative forms part of Sasol’s university collaboration initiative, a long-term programme that supports the core objectives of world-class teaching and research capacity in chemistry and chemical engineering at selected South African universities.

This programme was initiated a few years ago and is already successfully established, using the framework of a hub-and-spoke collaboration philosophy, at several South African universities.

Significant spin-offs

Although primarily designed to protect Sasol’s competitive advantage of doing R&D within the country, the programme will also have significant spin-offs benefiting South Africa in general.

The LECO Pegasus 4 GCxGC-TOFMS will enable scientists to make much more detailed analyses of how the more than 100 compounds that make up synthetic diesel fuel contribute to the likes of performance, viscosity, and lubricity of these fuels – an area of research known as tribology.

“With the rapid changes in engine technologies globally, it is important to fully characterise the composition of these fuels in order to exploit their unique benefits,” Sasol said.

SAinfo reporter

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