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.

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