Several decades ago there were more than 30 viscose fiber production plants in Europe. Today there are only two, one of which is the headquarters of the internationally operating Lenzing Group. The Austrian company has emerged as a global player as well as a market and technology leader for man-made cellulose fibers. The company says its fibers were once a cheap substitute for cotton but now are highly sought-after premium products which are valued due to the renewable raw material of wood and the environmentally-compatible production.
Lenzing has helped the more than 100-year-old viscose technology to reach new heights and innovations to minimize the environmental burden of the production process have set new standards as well. At the same time the company developed Tencel, which it says will shape the cellulose fiber industry in the coming decades.
75 years ago Lenzing manufactured 30,000 tons of fibers per year. In the meantime the fiber production volume of the Lenzing Group will soon reach a level of 900,000 tons.
The Lenzing Group operates a leading research center for cellulose and fiber chemistry at the Lenzing site. About 170 employees work there to further develop products and production technologies. Research expenditures of about €28 mn annually underline the importance the Lenzing Group attaches to research and development. An important objective of research projects is to develop ecological production methods and sustainable products with increasingly specialized areas of application.
The further development of Tencel technology remains the main focal point of Lenzing’s research efforts says the company. In addition to three Tencel plants, Lenzing also operates three pilot facilities in which new applications for Tencel fibers are developed and tested on a semi-industrial scale. The fourth Tencel factory, involving investments of more than €130 mn, is currently under construction at the Lenzing site in Upper Austria. It will commence operations in 2014 and mark the next technological step for Tencel.