Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tencel in Courtaulds Annual Reports (1981-90)

The Courtaulds Annual Reports contain concise statements of the progress of the Tencel development year-by-year.  These statements have been pasted into a series of 10 posts which can be read in sequence by scrolling down from here:

1981-82 - under "Research"
Technology is being developed in the use of novel solvents for the conversion of woodpulp to regenerated cellulose products, leading to lower effluent levels and reduced energy consumption in the manufacturing process.
1982-83 - under "Courtaulds Research"
 A pilot plant incorporating a process which directly dissolves cellulose ran successfully towards the end of the year.  First indications are that the process may provide a low cost route to novel types of fibres and films.
1983-84  - under "Courtaulds Research"
Development of the new process for directly dissolving and regenerating cellulose continued.  Samples of fibres, of fabrics made from them and of transparent films have been produced, all with interesting properties.
1984-85 - Under "Research"
The research progamme into the production of new fibres and films by direct dissolution and regeneration of woodpulp continued successfully.
1985-86 - under "Research"
The development of a direct solvent spinning system for cellulosic fibres and films continued successfully.  An expanded pilot plant will be available by the end of 1986.
1986-87 -  under "Fibres"
Research expenditure was again at a high level for all fibres, but especially in the development of the new solvent-spun cellulose fibre.  Its pilot-plant came on stream and good progress has been made on the next stage of production which will make commercial quantities available.
               - under "Research"
The programme to develop a new range of cellulosic fibres using a new direct solvent spinning system continued with the successful commissioning of an expanded pilot-plant and with engineering developments for further expansion.  The process gives significant improvements over existing fibre properties and environmentally.
1988-89 - under "Fibres"
The first commercial scale Tencel plant was commissioned during the year. Its capacity is modest and design work on larger units is now well underway.
                - under "Research"
Substantial work was undertaken to transfer expertise learned on the pilot the scaled up plant Grimsby.
1989-90 - under "Fibres and Films"
The new solvent spun fibre Tencel continued to progress well.

N.B.  (1) Tencel is not mentioned in the "Research and Technology" section in 89-90.
        (2) The Textiles business had been demerged and was no longer part of the Courtaulds Group.
        (3) Saiccor Pulp (the best pulp for making Tencel) had been sold in 1988 to fund acquisitions of US sealants and adhesives.
        (4) Bonded Fibre Fabric, the nonwoven business which had been modernised at the end of the eighties, was sold at the end of March.  (Tencel was showing great promise in nonwovens)
        (5) Prior to 1989-90, "Fibres" came immediately after the "Chairman's Statement" at the front of the Annual Report.   Here "Fibres" comes last after Coatings, Performance Materials, Packaging and Chemicals.  Furthermore it has been merged with the "Films" used in packaging - cellophane, polypropylene and polyethylene.  Maybe the continued development of Tencel clashed with the emerging strategy of getting out of Fibres and Textiles and was therefore downplayed.

Thanks to Ted Richards who provided the full set of Courtaulds Annual Reports from 1970 to 98

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