Following the successful completion of an environmental impact assessment, work has started on Lenzing’s new 67,000 tonnes per annum Tencel fibre production facility at Lenzing in Upper Austria. The build is expected to take two years.
Lenzing says it is investing approximately EUR 130 million in the new factory, making it one of the largest individual industrial investments in Austria at the present time. The company also says the project will be accompanied by considerable infrastructure investments.
Once fully operational the new Tencel production plant will generate 110 additional highly qualified jobs in Lenzing as well as a large number of other jobs in the region. Lenzing says the planning and construction of the facility also leads to a corresponding value creation.
Specialty fiber site
“With the Tencel plant, the fibre technology of the future and the latest generation of man-made cellulose fibres is returning to our corporate headquarters in Lenzing. The Lenzing pilot plant was the place where 20 years ago the first marketable lyocell fibres in the history of the Lenzing Group were produced. They are now marketed around the world under the Tencel brand name,” said a pleased Friedrich Weninger, Chief Operating Officer of Lenzing’s fibre business.
The new Tencel facility is of major strategic importance to the Lenzing site due to the fact that Tencel will also be produced on the premises in addition to the specialty fibres Lenzing Modal and Lenzing FR. The facility in Lenzing will further expand its position as the main specialty fibre production site for the Lenzing Group.
The geographical proximity to the European growth market for Tencel, the attractive energy costs as a consequence of the company’s own on-site power generation capabilities as well as the availability of a sufficient pool of qualified personnel and the closeness to the Tencel pilot plant were the main reasons underlying the decision to locate the new plant in Upper Austria.
Fibre of the future
Tencel fibres are used in both the textiles industry and for nonwovens. Lenzing says the production process is particularly environmentally compatible, and is characterized by the practically complete closed cycle of the solvent in use. Tencel is already being manufactured at plants in Heiligenkreuz, Burgenland, and Grimsby, U.K. and in Mobile, Alabama, USA.
To date, production lines with an annual capacity of up to 20,000 tonnes have been used. The current nominal production capacity of Tencel in the Lenzing Group totals approximately 140,000 tonnes per annum, which will be increased to 150,000 tonnes per annum thanks to an expansion program now being implemented at the Mobile, Alabama site.
New applications for Tencel are continually being developed. Lenzing says the optimal moisture management of the Tencel fibres makes it attractive for use in high quality home textiles such as quilts and bed linen, but also in women’s outerwear and active wear.
“Tencel is also designed for sensitive segments such as cosmetics, hygiene and medicine, for example in wound dressings and baby wipes. Tencel is even used in the technical segment, for example to enhance the strength of plastics or to manufacture electro-technical components. The latest technical application is Tencel powder. It is deployed as a moisture regulator in foam mattresses and as additives to building materials, amongst other uses,” Lenzing explains.
The Lenzing Group has production sites in all major markets as well as a worldwide network of sales and marketing offices. Lenzing supplies the global textile and nonwovens industry with high-quality man-made cellulose fibres and is the leading supplier in many markets. The company’s portfolio ranges from dissolving pulp, standard and specialty cellulose fibres to high-quality plastic polymer products and engineering services.
In 2011 the Lenzing Group has sales of EUR 2.14 billion, 91.5% of which was exported. The company produced 705,100 tonnes of fibre with 6593 staff.
Author: Billy Hunter