Lenzing has spent around EUR100m on research in lyocell technology

Lenzing has spent around EUR100m on research in lyocell technology

Lenzing Group says it will construct an additional 'jumbo' Tencel production plant if demand for the fibre continues, as it highlighted the success of the first six months of production at its Austria plant.

The cellulose fibre producer was this week celebrating the first six months of production at what it claims is the world's largest Tencel production plant, which opened in August. 

At a cost of EUR150m (US$200.4m), the Lenzing-based Austria plant is expected to increase the group's annual Tencel production capacity from 155,000 tonnes to around 220,000.

Speaking on the first half anniversary of the opening, Lenzing CEO Peter Untersperger said the facility has already successfully operated at full capacity and in "a trouble-free manner" for the past months.

Untersperger and COO Robert van de Kerkhof said Lenzing will continue to fully concentrate on Tencel in the coming years.

"We are continuously developing this market. Our technological know-how will also help us to open up new markets," van de Kerkhof said. "For this reason, Tencel is and will remain a top research and development priority at Lenzing."

Over the past five years, Lenzing has spent around EUR100m on research in lyocell technology and has been operating several pilot lyocell facilities at the Lenzing site for 25 years.

"If demand for Tencel fibres continues to develop as satisfactorily as expected, the Lenzing Group will likely construct an additional Tencel jumbo production plant based on this proven technology in the medium term," both executives added.

As of the end of 2014, total annual Tencel production capacity at Lenzing amounted to around 220,000 tons manufactured at its Austrian sites in both Lenzing and Heiligenkreuz, in Mobile, Alabama in the US, and in Grimsby, UK.

"Thanks to the new 'jumbo production line' at the Lenzing site, investment costs could be maintained at a very competitive level of approximately EUR150m (or about EUR2,200 per ton of capacity). This gives Lenzing the opportunity to achieve a further competitive scaling of Tencel fibres as a universally deployable textile and non-woven fibre," the company said.