Friday, August 31, 2012

The Quigley, Jack and Gray Tencel Patent (1993)

United States Patent5,456,748
Quigley ,   et al.October 10, 1995

Premix storage hopper

A premix storage hopper for storing a hot, viscous, paste-like mixture containing cellulose dispersed in a solution of tertiary amine oxide and water, comprises a vertical contain having a central shaft rotatable about a vertical axis and carrying stirring members and heating means for heating side walls of the container.

Inventors:Quigley; Michael C. (Meriden, GB)Jack; Iain R. (Nuneaton, GB), Gray; Gary E. G. (Westwood Heath, GB)
Assignee:Courtaulds Fibres (Holdings) Ltd. (London, GB
Appl. No.:08/067,429
Filed:May 24, 1993

A method of moving a hot viscous pastelike mixture formed in a pre-mixer and containing cellulose dispersed in an amine oxide solvent for the cellulose to a subsequent processing stage without separation of mixture components which comprises introducing said mixture into a storage hopper, retaining the mixture in said hopper while stirring said mixture by a plurality of separate stirring members rotating about a common vertical axis and sweeping out different annular paths spaced throughout the height of the hopper and then pumping said mixture to said further processing stage. 

Tencel 1978-92: Early problems and a decade to scale up (1993)

This is from Textile Month Feb 1993, written by Andrew Thornton. Pat's comments provide interesting insight into the problems of the early years of experimentation in Coventry.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tencel Japan Team - some 25 years on (2012)

Kunihiko Tozaki has sent in this photo taken at a Tencel Japan team reunion in Feb 2012.  An excellent contribution to the "Where are they now" folder!

Far side of the table L-R: Mr. Atsushi Suda, Miss. Kyoko Takaki、Mr. Kenji Suminaga, Miss. kyoko Yamamoto, Kunihiko Tozaki, Mrs. Sada. In front, Mr. Nobuyoshi Kobayashi, Mrs. Tomoko Gondow, Miss. Kayoko Sawada.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mobile Tencel Plant Commissioning Party - Courtaulds list. (1992)

The following list is scanned/OCR'd from the original with the non-Courtaulds names removed. (If anyone wants the full list I'd be happy to post it)

GUESTS LIST (Courtaulds Only)

David Duthie-COURTAULDS TENCEL, Mobile
David Giarchardi-COURTAULDS FIBRES, London
Gina Graham -COURTAULDS TENCEL, New York
Sandy Welford-COURTAULDS FIBERS, Mobile
Neil Foster (now sadly deceased)COURTAULDS GmbH, Düsseldorf
Helen Atkins - COURTAULDS TENCEL, Coventry
Donald Anderson-COURTAULDS plc, London
Chapell Harris-COURTAULDS
Warren Shiner-COURTAULDS
Melvin Poolle-COURTAULDS
Tony Lang (now sadly deceased)-COURTAULDS CANADA

Mobile Tencel Plant Commissioning Party (1992)

158 invitees were on the Tencel launch party guest list at Mobile's Stouffer Riverside Plaza Hotel in December 92.  Of these,  27 were Courtaulds employees and the rest were mainly from the apparel industry, mainly US but with 12 Japanese and 7 Europeans. There were 7 from the US nonwoven industry.  Here's the introductory statement from Bob Feil.  Names of the Courtaulds people on the list will be posted later.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tencel introduced to the Japanese market (1987)

Kunihiko Tozaki and I did not mention Genesis or Tencel during our tours of the Japanese nonwoven market until this August 1987 meeting with the Techncial Director of Unicharm, Migaku Suzuki.  

As mentioned in an earlier post, we'd arranged a blind trial with Tencel as part of the work to assess the Unicharm hydroentanglement system for BFF.  This resulted in the 'R134' nonwoven sample mentioned in the clip above.  (This remarkably soft and silky Tencel coverstock was also used to illustrate the fibre's coverstock potential at later meetings with P&G Research in Cincinnati.)

Seeing this clip again dredged up a series of recollections which probably should appear in a "BFF Saga blog" but I'll record them here before they disappear again.

Mobile Tencel Plant Starts: Ad in Mobile Press Register (1992)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tencel in UK Speciality Papers (1987)

J R Crompton* (Bury) appear to have been the first speciality papermaker to report interesting results from their first trials with short-cut Tencel.  Brian Tomkinson, the Technical Manager, evaluated 5mm 1.7 dtex as a direct replacement for viscose in tea-bags and as a direct replacement for abaca (manila hemp).  He also evaluated 12-15mm 1.7 dtex as a replacement for polyester in medical papers.

Tencel disintegrated too easily in the abaca beating process and gave an unusably high Schopper Riegler value and a very highly swollen "gel" in a 5 minute treatment.  It clearly disintegrated much more easily than the abaca  fibre and they would need to optimise the beating process to make it usable.  

They were keen to follow up the polyester replacement, and we noted the need to study the beating properties of Tencel back in Research.

*Now Glatfelter UK

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tencel gives good fibre-yarn conversion (1989)

Its not clear where this article came from or who wrote it.  Presumably the original was in English and had been translated into German for inclusion in the main body of this journal.  The main story seems to be that Tencel fibre/yarn conversion is unexpectedly good, but the graph to illustrate this isn't included with this translation.  No mention of fibrillation.  Is the fibre still used in ground warps for velvets, towelling or sheetings I wonder?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First public presentation of Tencel Nonwovens? - EDANA Index Show Geneva (1987)

This turned up while looking for something completely different for a client.  My earlier 1987 posts bemoaned the absence of press coverage of Tencel in 1987 but I'd clearly forgotten giving a paper at the International Nonwoven and Disposables Exhibition and Conference in Geneva in April that year, and the press appear not to have picked it up.  

It could be the first public paper covering the process and our early work on nonwoven applications with the fibre.  It covers thermal and latex bonding only.  The conclusions from the paper,  written with David A Smith and S.D.J. Williams, are given below:

Development of hydroentangled fabrics was well underway by this time but maybe the confidentiality agreements with companies like Chicopee prevented disclosure of the very good results.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lenzing Group: Good Half-Year Results in a Difficult Market Environment (2012)

For those who enjoyed Tom Burrow's update on Tencel in Lenzing, this is from their latest half yearly report. In a separate interview, Chief Executive Peter Untersperger said the company was feeling the effects of weaker demand from China, by far the world's biggest textiles market, which is suffering from weak exports to the crisis-hit euro zone. "We feel headwinds from China, no question," he told journalists at a news conference. Cotton inventories are at all-time highs and demand remains sluggish due to the weak global economy.
The Lenzing Group performed very well in the first half of 2012 against the backdrop of a difficult market environment. The ambitious business targets were fully achieved. However, as expected, the record levels generated in the first half of 2011 were not reached again. Due to the changed market expectation the guidance for the full year 2012 has been adapted.
“We managed to successfully counteract the weak market conditions throughout the entire first half of 2012. Demand for Lenzing fibers continued unabatedly and all our fiber and pulp production plants were operating at full capacity. We even managed to achieve a new record in the first half-year with a fiber shipment volume of 390,000 tons“, says Peter Untersperger, Chief Executive Officer of Lenzing.
In any case, Lenzing remains firmly committed to its long-term objectives, and will invest approximately EUR 1.6 bn by 2015 in order to expand fiber production capacity to about 1.2 mn tons per year. “We think in the long-term and anticyclically,” Lenzing CEO Peter Untersperger states. Amongst other projects, construction work began in June 2012 on the first TENCEL® production facility at the Lenzing site within the framework of this expansion program. The new plant also represents the world’s largest TENCEL® production line to date.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tencel in hydroentanglement at Unicharm (1985)

Unrelated to the main Genesis project, we were evaluating the Unicharm hydroentanglement system for possible installation at BFF in Bridgwater.  Following a 1985 visit to the Unicharm plant on Shikoku island with Siggy Waegner (BFF and Viscose Div. Director) and Bill Kennard (BFF MD)*  we arranged blind trials with several different "viscoses" on the Unicharm pilot line.  In addition to several Grimsby Fibro types, one of these "viscoses" was an early batch of Tencel from the Coventry Genesis pilot line: another was Toyobo's "Tufcel" polynosic viscose.

If the test data turns up I'll post it here, but from memory Tufcel and Tencel were similar in nonwoven form in this low-pressure HE process, but both were significantly stronger wet and dry than the Fibro.  As in other trials elsewhere at this time, the low cohesion of the Tencel fibre meant web handling was difficult. 

Following the visit BFF decided to instal a Unicharm line and became one of the first companies to commence production outside the Dupont and Chicopee patents on the process.

Friday, August 17, 2012

FDA Approval for Tencel in Medical Swabs (1991)

Solvent residues in Tencel were making some nonwoven hygiene product makers cautious about developing products with the new fibre. This led us to apply for FDA pre-market approval for general purpose swabs made out of "raw" needled Tencel staple. These were then sterilized and packed and submitted to the FDA for testing against a control batch of commercial J&J swabs made of viscose.  The record below gives us the dates of submission and approval on the basis of "substantial equivalence" to the commercial viscose product. 

After this (in 93) we repeated the exercise with a more critical operating-room swab construction used in body cavities during surgery.   Later still (in 97) the process was repeated this time to clear Tencel for use in an occlusive burn dressing.  Both of these gained FDA approval also.

Courtaulds Research's Focus Polymers unit (who were making wound dressings from alginate nonwovens) made, sterilised and packed the swabs for these trials and I think it was Tom Burrow who recommended we used Evan Dick as the consultant to interface with the FDA.  Evan was based in St Louis where Bob Feil, Glyn Raven and I visited him in 91 to set things moving.  I asked Glyn Raven if he remembered the visit.  His recollection follows as a comment. (Click comment below to see it)

FDA 510(k) Application Details - K921227

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CEL SL1 Press Release mentions Tencel fibrillation in hydroentanglement (1991)

Anon., Medical Textiles, Sept 1991, p9

This was more important than it looks.  If memory serves, when the embargo on patenting was lifted we tried to patent nonwovens made from Tencel fibrillated in high pressure hydroentanglement and this publication was used to show the effect was already in the public domain.  Patenting was therefore not possible.

Courtaulds starts large scale Tencel production (1990)

Rare publicity in "The Chemical Engineer" apparently based on an interview with Barrie March and Donald Anderson.  Also a rare outing for the "environmentally secure" euphemism used when "environmentally friendly" was out of favour.  Other notable aspects bearing in mind the June 1990 date:
  • "[exotherms] not discovered until the project was well advanced."
  • The  criticism of the viscose process for its pollution did not go down well in the Viscose operations.
(Apologies if it is hard to read - zooming in should help)

Lenzing position 1.3dtex Modal against Tencel (1990)

Lenzing's first reaction to the early favourable reviews of Tencel in hydroentangled nonwovens was to suggest Modal as an alternative.  Here they seem to claim Modal fibrillates.
Anon., Medical Textiles, Feb 1990, p2


The Austrian viscose rayon and modal fibre producer Lenzing AG has acquired a US viscose staple plant from BASF. The plant has a capacity of 60,000tpy of viscose and modal items. Under BASF control, its output was marketed in the US as Zantrel. Lenzing now has control of viscose rayon and modal production capacity of 180,000tpy, together with that of an Indonesian joint venture plant. The company is at the pilot-plant stage of developing a solvent-spun rayon fibre. Its competitor Courtaulds is opening a solvent-spinning plant in Alabama for the production of Tencel. 

Anon, Nonwovens Rep. Int., no. 253, Apr. 1992, pp 7-8

This BASF Lowland plant was formerly American Enka, then Akzona. It was a small viscose plant with a reputation for the best quality viscose fibres for textiles in the USA.  The first ever lyocell fibres were spun by Akzona at their Asheville labs in the mid '70's. (McCorsley, Franks, Varga et al)

American Enka decided not to commercialise the lyocell process and stopped the research in 1981, probably because at that time engineering issues associated with the difficulty of avoiding exothermic reactions looked too hard to resolve economically. However when Courtaulds had demonstrated practical solutions to the many problems discovered during American Enka's early work, they (Enka that is, now part of Akzo-Nobel) re-entered the field with the continuous filament version of the lyocell process under their brand name "Newcell". The Akzo deal with Courtaulds involved their gaining access to Courtaulds technology in exchange for granting Courtaulds rights to use some of the key steps in the early patents mentioned above.


 Courtaulds Fibers Inc.'s new Tencel plant in Alabama, USA, is due to begin production in the summer of 1992. The near $80m plant will have a initial production capacity of 18,000tpy of the high strength solvent-spun cellulosic fibre. Delivery has been received of the final part of the machinery and equipment ordered from Courtaulds Engineering Ltd in the UK. This order includes a unique spinning machine especially designed and developed for use in the new production process for Tencel. 

Anon: Int. Nonwovens Bull.,vol. 2, no. 4, 4th qtr. 1991, p. 42

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


It is only recently that the suitability of the N-methyl morpholine oxide (NMMO) process for the production of filament yarns has been recognised. The three main steps of Akzo's NewCell NMMO technology consist of the production of a homogeneous solution from pulp, NMMO and water, the actual extrusion process and the recovery of the NMMO. The NMMO process is of a purely mechanical nature and uses the four physical steps of dissolving, extrusion and drying. Compared to viscose filament yarns NMMO fibres feature a superior single filament titre, greater dry and wet strength, and a better shrinking behaviour.

Kruger R., Paper presented at 32nd International Man-Made Fibres Congress held at Dornbirn, Austria, 22-24 Sept. 1993, 12pp

The full paper can be seen here

Monday, August 13, 2012

The first Tencel in Hydroentanglement Trial (1985)

The first presentations of Genesis outside Courtaulds Group companies were made during a series of visits to US nonwovens producers between 21/10/85 and 1/11/85.  Such visits were routinely made to Courtaulds North America's viscose customers, usually bimonthly, and usually accompanied by Eric Attle, CNA's Staple Sales Development Manager until his retirement in 1987.  For Genesis we targetted companies with the latest nonwoven technology, especially hydroentanglement and thermal bonding, but also wet-laid producers in view of the Genesis processes's ability to produce tow which for viscose was a premium variant.

From this first series, Johnson and Johnson's Chicopee R&D labs in New Jersey were most enthusiatic and saw the fibre's potential in medical products and wipes.  They wanted the first machine trials to be done at their plant in Cuijk on an MEF 1 (Modified Entangled Fibre) production line.  

As a consequence the first bale of Genesis fibre produced in Coventry would be shipped to Chicopee in Holland in 1986.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Courtaulds is to install a second production line for Tencel solvent spun cellulosic staple fibre at its plant in Alabama, USA, at a cost of $134m and may build a production facility in either the UK or Germany. The current line has capacity of 18,000tpy and this will be increased to 43,000tpy when started up in August 1995. Tencel is the most commercially successful of the lyocell fibres currently available and is most used in women's clothing, denim jeans and chambray shirts. It is produced by dissolving woodpulp in solvent, which is then recovered, and has high wet strength and excellent fibrillation possibilities when subjected to high energy water jets. This fibrillation capability means that spunlaced constructions may be formed by bonding with other fibres, which then have high strength and good filtration properties. 

Anon, Nonwovens Rep. Int. no. 273, Dec. 1993, p. 3


Lenzing's proprietary Lyocell technology represents an attractive alternative to the conventional viscose process for reasons of cost and environmental protection. The Lyocell fibre represents a new generation of cellulose fibre with new improved properties. Popular in textile applications because of its fibrillation characteristics, Lyocell has also attracted interest from the nonwovens and technical textile sector despite greater interfibre competition. It's low fibrillation tendency makes Lyocell an interesting alternative to cotton and polyester at the value-added end of the market, if sufficient capacities can be provided.

(Drs Marini, Firgo  and Eibl, Paper presented at 32nd International Man-Made Fibres Congress held at Dornbirn, Austria, 22-24 Sept. 1993)

Lenzing mention the low fibrillation tendency of their Lyocell as an advantage despite the fashion for peachskin which is benefiting Tencel.  Here they claim their basic process gives lower fibrillation than Tencel and document work on reducing the fibrillation further.


The Mobile plant is making "a new cellulose biodegradable artificial raw material" developed by Courtaulds Research.

Artificial fibres were until about 1990 the poor relation among man-made fibres, but the ecology movement has since helped them make a comeback in textile applications. Courtaulds Research of the UK has developed Tencel, a new cellulose biodegradable artificial raw material, made by a chemically simple production process, whose performance at least equals that of traditional viscose fibres. Tencel has all the properties of natural fibres, including good moisture absorbency, comfort and brightness, making it suitable for leisure and sportswear, with better drape effects in fashionwear than cotton gives. The fibre strength enables finer yarns and more lightweight fabrics to be made. For technical fabrics, Tencel's strength, rigidity and wet modulus produce very strong structures with low shrinkage; applications include industrial yarns, disposables and durable goods. Like viscose rayon, Tencel can produce bright, intense colours. Courtaulds is now operating an industrial-scale Tencel plant in Alabama, USA. The article provides graphs and statistics showing fibre properties. 

Bullio P G., Nuova Sel. Tess., no. 9, Sept. 1992, pp 38-41

Thursday, August 9, 2012

First Lenzing Lyocell patent (1991)

This appears about 8 years after the first Courtaulds NMMO patent and furthermore after the design of the Mobile plant had been finalised.

United States Patent
Zikeli ,   et al.March 10, 1992

Process and arrangement for preparing a solution of cellulose

There is disclosed a process for preparing solutions of cellulose in aqueous tertiary amine oxides from a suspension of cellulose in an aqueous solution of the tertiary amine oxide by supplying heat at a reduced pressure. The suspension is transported over a heating surface, spread in layers or coats, until a homogenous solution of the cellulose has formed, which has a viscosity of between 50 and 15,000 Pas.s. Feeding of the suspension and drawing-off of the homogenous solution are carried out continuously. The solutions are prepared in an indirectly heated evacuatable vessel provided with a stirring device. The vessel is designed as a cylindrical container including a centrically mounted stirring shaft having agitators joined thereto, the radial distance of the agitators from the internal wall of the container being 20 mm at the most. There are provided an intake for the cellulose suspension in the upper part of the container and an outlet for the homogenous collulose solution in its lower end.

Inventors:Zikeli; Stefan (Regau, AT), Wolschner; Bernd (Vocklabruck, AT), Eichinger; Dieter (Vocklabruck, AT), Jurkovic; Raimund (Lenzing, AT), Firgo; Heinrich (Vocklabruck, AT)
Assignee:Lenzing Aktiengesellschaft (Lenzing, AT
Appl. No.:07/742,093
Filed:August 2, 1991

see also:
A 2036/88Austria1988-08-16

Click here for full patent


 Rayon is a fibre based on regenerated cellulose. The major source of the cellulose for rayon production is wood pulp, but cotton linters may also be used. The actual production process requires significant quantities of sulphuric acid, caustic soda, carbon disulphide, and water. The three types of commercially manufactured rayon at present available are viscose, cupro, and Courtaulds' proprietary brand Tencel. The basic stages of the viscose rayon process are steeping, mercerising, xanthation, mixing and ripening, filtration and deaeration, spinning, washing, and drying. Tencel is produced using a straight solvation process. In terms of product performance the main reason for the use of rayon lies in its unique absorbing properties which can be engineered to specification. In addition rayon also shows excellent dry wiping and dissipation characteristics. The most common applications for rayon are wipes, tampons, fabric softener substrate, coiler, sponges and dressings, coverstock, filters and floppy disc liners.

Horrocks D., Paper presented at 1992 Nonwoven Fibers: Properties, Characteristics and Applications Short Course held 21-23 Sept. 1992 at Bedford, NH, USA, pp 179-198 (TAPPI)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tencel News - From Tom Burrow - 25/7/12

The News page refuses to display properly on my computer, so I'm switching it to a series of posts which will accumulate in a "PR" folder.  Here's Tom's contribution again in case you had the same problem.

From Tom Burrow Lenzing - 25/7/12)

The new Tencel plant in Austria is now under construction.  When it starts up (in 2014) it will operate using bought in pulp rather than pulp from the Lenzing on-site pulp mill although this is a long term target.   The capacity of the plant will be 67,000 tons pa making it the largest Tencel plant yet built.

Capacities are also being increased at the other Tencel plants.  In 2014, the capacity of Mobile will be 60,000 tons, Heiligenkreuz 65,000 tons and Grimsby will be 40,000 tons giving a total capacity of 222,000 tons pa - a very rapid expansion of production.  This year production of Tencel has overtaken the production of Modal for the first time...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Lenzing appear undecided as to whether fibrillation is a good thing or not

Lyocell fibres are regenerated cellulosic fibres based on the dissolution of cellulose in an organic solvent, wet spinning of the solution into a coagulation bath, and complete recovery of the solvent. Lyocell fibres possess high tensile strength and tensile modulus, and show a high loop and knot strength. The links between the crystallites in the elementary fibrils in the case of Lyocell fibres are shorter and better ordered than with modal viscose fibres, which explains their noted tendency to high fibrillation, particularly in the wet state. As the elementary fibrils are stiffer and less interconnected than with Modal fibres, they are more easily separated by mechanical action. 

 Lenz J; Schurz J., Paper presented at Fibrichem '92 held 24-25 June 1992 at Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, vol. 1, pp 18-23 


As yet the only fully commercialised Lyocell fibre in the world, Courtaulds' Tencel, is now also being manufactured at the company's US plant in Mobile, Alabama, in addition to the already existing production output from Grimsby in the UK. Key markets for the new fibre are the USA, Japan and Europe. Tencel fabrics are destined for a wide choice of applications including the high fashion market. Denim medium and heavy weights, colour wovens and chambrays, bottom weight trousers, skirting fabrics, circular units, and top-weight prints all make use of the tenacity, strength, natural fibre-look and soft feel of Tencel. The lyocell fibre can be engineered to produce a wide range of drape and handle effects. Its inherent properties enhance fabric production especially during wet processing. 

 Anon., Chemiefasern Text. Ind., suppl. Man-Made Fiber Year Book 1992, p. 22


In the US the Federal Trade Commission has granted Courtaulds Fibers Inc. a temporary designation for use in marketing a new generic manufactured fibre with the proposed name Lyocell. Composed of precipitated cellulose, the fibre is produced by an organic solvent extrusion process. The solvent spun rayon is currently in commercial use in Europe, and Courtaulds is planning to begin production at its Alabama plant in mid 1992 with an initial capacity of 40m lb per year. 

Anon., Nonwovens Mark., vol. 7, no. 9, 24 Apr. 1992, pp 4-5

The use of Lyocell as a generic label in the USA was delayed by a few years due to the FTC deliberations over whether lyocell was a rayon or a new class of fibre.  In the meantime "CF0001" was the permitted generic and this was used at the launch of Mobile production.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pre-Genesis solvent spun cellulose memories? (~1975)

I have a vague recollection of being at a meeting arranged by Norman Wooding who had been head of Viscose Research Laboratory but was then on the Main Board, maybe Deputy Chairman. It involved a group of section leaders from VRL and DCE discussing future projects for R&D at a meeting with Dr Wooding and Sir Arthur Knight (Chairman) in Hanover Square. New solvents for cellulose came up on the basis of work being done by ITT Rayonier in the US.  We were then having problems designing numerous new viscose lines "down to a price" while meeting new gaseous and liquid emission targets. 

Norman Wooding knocked the suggestion that VRL should start developing a solvent process on the head with a few observations about costs and the difficulties of recovering the solvents involved. NMMO was not visible at that time. I think he recommended waiting until someone else cracked the recovery problem before doing anything. 

For the record, new Modal lines for Carrickfergus, Canada and Balokovo (Russian tyre yarn plant built by Courtaulds) and new improved Fibro lines for Calais and Svenska were all on the books between 73 and 76.  Carrick Modal was part of the Kearton master plan to put the world's biggest polyester/modal sheeting operation in Ireland. Spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing commenced on a grand scale and under one roof at Campsie in Ireland with massive government support, but never operated economically enough to compete with Far East production.  Courtaulds first venture into polyester filament at Letterkenny was completed, but the production of modal at Carrick never went ahead.  The other viscose plants were built, but the plant with the tightest emissions targets, Balokovo, was built by Maurer not Courtaulds.

  Any other recollections of pre-Genesis discussions on solvent spinning would be great!

Here's a clip from Hansard regarding Campsie.

Courtaulds Ltd.
HC Deb 18 June 1981 vol 6 c432W432W

§Mr. Wm. Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what are the total public funds invested in the Courtaulds factory at Campsie;

(2) what are the total sums paid from public funds to Courtaulds Ltd. in Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years.

§Mr. Adam Butler

Until October 1980 it was the practice of the Department of Commerce, Northern Ireland not to divulge the amounts of financial assistance provided to industrial companies and an understanding to this effect was written into all agreements between the Department and companies. I regret, therefore, that I am unable to respond to the hon. Gentleman's question directly. However, the Public Accounts Committee has in its fourteenth report given certain details of the assistance given by the Department of Commerce towards the Courtaulds project at Campsie.

§Mr. Wm. Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the sums recoverable by the Government from Courtaulds Ltd. in respect of its factory at Campsie, Londonderry.

§Mr. Adam Butler

A considerable sum will be recoverable from Courtaulds Ltd. in respect of the closure of its factory at Campsie. Steps are now being taken to calculate the exact amount involved but this work cannot be completed until after production has ceased.

§Mr. Wm. Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the projected number of jobs at the initial stages of the Courtaulds factory at Campsie; what levels were actually reached; and what was the projected and actual cost to public funds of each job and the total cost per job.

§Mr. Adam Butler

The original employment target for the factory was 1,510. At the end of 1979 the number of jobs reached a peak of 850; this had fallen off to 630 by the time of the announcement of closure. On the cost to public funds of the project, I refer the hon. Member to my reply to his question on assistance towards the project.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tencel Splits into Microfibre on Hydroentanglement (1991)

This could be the first public reference to Tencel's propensity to break into microfibres on hydroentanglement.  I guess this was putting a marketing gloss on the fibrillation tendency but the Perfojet line mentioned here was at the time the highest pressure system available and was justified on the basis of allowing a thorough exploration of the way the fibre disintegrated under high pressure water jets.  Commercial lines operating at the pressures achieved in Courtaulds Research took a year or two longer to emerge.

Focus Nonwovens a specialist arm of Courtaulds Research supports Courtaulds Fibres Ltd in the development of new nonwoven products. Courtaulds sees hydroentanglement as an important development in the nonwovens sector, and Focus Nonwovens is extending its hydroentanglement facilities. It has ordered a high-pressure pilot line from the French company Perfojet which is capable of bonding a wide variety of webs. Courtaulds' Viscose staple entangles well, as does the solvent-spun cellulosic fibre Tencel. Under high water pressure Tencel has been shown to split into microfibres which it is considered may offer some benefits.

(Anon, Med. Text., Aug. 1991, p. 4)

Thursday, August 2, 2012


 The first commercial Tencel production plant is near completion in Alabama, USA. The £47m plant, due to come on stream in summer in 1992, has been designed and built by Courtaulds Engineering Ltd in collaboration with Courtaulds Research in the UK. The extrusion line is based on a modular design to aid despatch and on-site construction. Interest is high in the nonwovens potential of the strong solvent spun cellulosic fibre, Tencel, due to reports of its performance on spunlace systems. When Tencel fibres are subjected to the high pressure jets of the spunlace process they fibrillate, increasing fabric strength and improving filtration properties. 

Anon., Nonwovens Rep. Int. no. 246, Sept. 1991, p. 9


 Preliminary experiments by Courtaulds Research on how different fibres are affected by hydroentanglement systems were continued on a larger scale on a Perfojet line. Several fibre types were used in the trials including the cross-linked polyacrylate Inidex; the rayon fibres Fibro and Viloft; the modacrylic fibre Teklan; and the solvent spun cellulosic Tencel. The resulting fabrics were tested for basis weight, machine-direction and cross-direction tensile strength, wet properties, thickness and absorbency. The conclusions draw together the performance of specific fibres in the hydroentanglement trials. It was confirmed, as earlier studies had indicated, that rayon webs and then solvent-spun cellulosics are the most easily entangled fibres and polyester and acrylics the most difficult. 

Woodings C R., 'Fibers and Binders for Nonwovens', edited by Cain L W, pp 97-106 [San Francisco, CA, USA: Miller Freeman Inc., 1991, 320pp, $297.00 (676.81.05)(9271)]


Note the stated intention to supply pre-blends of viscose and Tencel from Mobile.  Was this related to worries over fibrillation or a desire to offer less expensive bales of unique product to the market?

Courtaulds Engineering Ltd, Coventry, UK, will be the main engineering contractor for the new £47m Courtaulds Fibers Inc., solvent-spun cellulosic fibre plant in Alabama, USA. The facility will be the first full-scale production unit for Tencel fibre; it is being built adjacent to a rayon manufacturing plant. CEL will also provide project management services. By summer 1992 the new plant will have 18,000tpy production capacity, and will supply unblended and pre-blended with rayon Tencel products to the US textiles and nonwoven markets.

Anon., Eur. Chem. News, vol. 55, no. 1449, 26 Nov. 1990, p. 29


Courtaulds Research is to complement its existing Honeycomb Systems line with a high-pressure hydroentanglement pilot line from Perfojet, France. The new unit is designed to bond a variety of wet-laid, dry-laid and cross-lapped webs and is intended to keep Courtaulds at the forefront in the supply of speciality fibres for the nonwovens industry worldwide. Courtaulds features strongly in the manufacture of viscose rayon staple as well as solvent-spun cellulose fibres with its proprietary Tencel brand.

Anon., Nonwovens Mark., vol. 6, no. 14, 12 July 1991, p. 3

Tencel Fibre Characteristics (1986)

Here is the 1986 view of the properties of Tencel (Genesis) fibre properties as they were presented in the s25 justification documents. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


This should have won a prize for getting things wrong.  I think Textile Horizons was then a free magazine for members of the Textile Institute.  Worth every penny!

In June 1992 Courtaulds, USA, opened a $8m factory for the production of its new cellulosic fibre Tencel which uses elements of both the company's viscose and acetate processing cycles. Following an evaluation of the parameters of fibre performance, high safety potential, environmental compatibility and process technology, a specific solvent-spun process was developed for the construction of Tencel. Over the years that process underwent many refinements before the company could enter into commercial production of Tencel. Initial problems encountered included the degradation of the cellulose in solution during spinning and degradation of the solvent itself. In 1990 after years of trial and error the team commissioned with the development of Tencel did finally emerge with a high quality, consistent and reliable cellulosic fibre. Particular details of the process technology and equipment used for the construction of the new fibre have yet not been made available. 

Anon., Text. Horiz. Int., vol. 12, no. 10, Oct. 1992, pp 75-77