Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lenzing expands Mobile Tencel plant (2013)

The Lenzing Group has successfully completed a capacity expansion at its production facility located in Mobile, AL. The expansion increased capacity of the cellulose fiber Tencel from 40,000 to 50,000 tons per year.

With this expansion investment in Tencel fibers made in the U.S., Lenzing managed to strengthen its position both as a global company and as the only cellulose fiber producer in North America. About 60% of Tencel fibers produced in Mobile are destined for nonwoven applications including sensitive segments such as hygiene and medical as well as volume markets such as baby wipes. Site Manager Kevin Allen and his team are coordinating the production of Tencel fibers designed for improved high speed carding performance.

The production process of Tencel fibers is particularly environmentally friendly. It is characterized by a closed loop manufacturing system. Being made from the renewable raw material wood sourced from responsibly managed forests, Lenzing cellulose fibers are contributing to a fair future balance between economic, social and ecological development.

“Our Mobile plant combines the geographical proximity to our US customers with an ideal location to also serve the growing South American market”, says Wolfgang Plasser, vice president and general manager of Business Unit Nonwovens at Lenzing. “Competitive energy costs, an overall stable political situation as well as highly effective logistic processes were promising arguments to expand at our Alabama site."

Source: Nonwovens Industry 11/3/2013

This recent article in Nonwovens Industry magazine probably refers to the "modernisation" and restart of Courtaulds long-mothballed 1992 Tencel line (SL1) using fibre production technology based on viscose staple wet-cutting and washing techniques.  The original SL1 line produced staple by mechanically crimping and dry-cutting Tencel tow using Courtaulds acrylic fibre technology.  This route gave lower cohesion than viscose-based technology and proved less satisfactory for Tencel destined for high speed carding and nonwovens.   Mobile now has the flexibility to make both types of fibre in one factory.

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