Tuesday, September 25, 2012


An early mention of the Genesis project to leaven the viscose plant closure announcement. ("per day" is clearly a typo!)

This article confirms the closure by Courtaulds plc of its Greenfield viscose staple and Holywell viscose tow plants and the policy of reduction of viscose rayon staple production capacity, at present estimated at 90,000 tons per day and planned to fall to 60,000 tons after the Greenfield closure. Production of viscose tow is to be transferred to the company's Grimsby plant, while short run output of speciality viscose fibres is likely to be produced from the 15,000 ton/year capacity Calais plant. The closures do not mean a lessening Courtaulds interest in viscose, and development work continues on the new solvent spinning process for rayon, which uses direct dissolution.

Anon., Nonwovens Rep. Int., no. 170, June 1985, pp 6-7

The Greenfield viscose plant was the largest in the world in the 1960's producing 100,000 tonnes/year of fibre, about half of which ("No 1 Unit") was going into the new tufted carpets. No 1 Unit was closed in the 70's when bulked continuous filament nylon took over the cheap carpet market in the UK.  A few years before this 1985 announcement the batch process for viscose production in No 2 Unit (50,000 tpa capacity) had been replaced with a continuous viscose process at great expense.  

The decision on whether to close this remaining modern and flexible Greenfield factory or the older and inflexible Grimsby plant of similar size could not have been easy.  At that time Grimsby was the lowest cost producer of commodity rayon in Europe while Greenfield had, prior to modernisation, developed such specialities as Modal and Polynosic (Vincel 64 and 28), HS Fibro, Viloft, SI Fibre, Sarille crimped, Evlan carpet fibre, and Tow.  

("Moving the specialities to Calais" was not that practical.  Calais would need investment, could not match Greenfield economy of scale, but it was probably more complicated to close down.  In the event it only survived until 1991.)

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