Thursday, August 16, 2012


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.

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