Thursday, November 8, 2012

Increasing Demand for Man-made Cellulosic Fibres predicted: "The Cellulosics Gap" (1997)

Lenzing's recent paper (1) featuring the "Cellulosics Gap"  prompted me to look for the 1997 paper on the subject.  I've so far failed to find it but the following is from the 1999 paper "Whither Cellulosics" and includes the key reference to Tim Johnson's market research for Courtaulds. 

One of the most thorough recent expositions of the outlook for cellulosic fibres was compiled by T F N Johnson of Courtaulds (2). He argued that continued population growth and increased per capita fibre use will result in a demand for a further 70 million tonnes of fibres by 2050. With the potential for further cotton yield or hectarage increases now limited, and with the synthetics still looking unlikely to provide the comfort element of future textiles, Johnson postulates a "Cellulosics Gap" of up to 20 million tonnes.

He points out that for 60 years, cotton production has grown almost entirely due to increased fibre yield per hectare. Land area under cotton cultivation has been constant for that period, and pressure for the same top quality agricultural land will increase due to the need to feed increased population.
Better irrigation, higher pesticide use, higher chemical fertiliser use and genetic improvements achieved the cotton yield increase. In fact cotton cultivation in Russia became so intensive that despite its benign environmental image it has been the origin of environmental degradation on a massive scale (3). 

In the 1980's, a tonne of Central Asian cotton required approximately 800 kgs of fertilisers, 100 kgs of pesticides and an aggregate of 1.5 metres depth of water per square metre of growing area. In recent years cotton yield per acre has peaked and now appears to be unlikely to increase further in the foreseeable future.

1 "A Vision of the World of Cellulosic Fibres in 2020", Dieter Eichinger, Lenzing AG, Lenzinger Berichte 90, 2012, and 50th Dornbirn Man Made Fibres Congress 2011.

2 "World Fibre Demand 1890-2050 by Main Fibre Type." T F N Johnson, Courtaulds Fibres UK, presented to the Chinese National Textile Council, 1997

3 "Poisoned Waters", New Scientist 21 October 1995.

In 1997 Tim was predicting a demand for an extra 20 million tons of rayon by 2050.  Lenzing now feel it could be 5 million tonnes by 2020.

No comments: