Lenzing AG said construction work has begun on a new plant in Lenzing/Upper Austria that will increase its capacity to make Tencel by nearly 50 percent when it’s completed in 24 months. Lenzing’s Tencel and Modal cellulosic fibers have become popular with performance and outdoor apparel brands for their moisture management capabilities, hand and sustainability story and are also penetrating medical and other commercial markets.
Lenzing had applied for the construction permit for the project nine months ago and was awaiting environmental approvals. The permit was issued by the Office of the Provincial Government of Upper Austria. The new production facility will manufacture 67,000 tons a year of the specialty fiber Tencel. Construction time has been calculated at 24 months.
Lenzing AG will invest approximately €130 million in the new factory, making it one of the largest individual industrial investments in Austria at the present time. The plant is expected to employ 110 people.
“With the Tencel plant the fiber technology of the future and the latest generation of man-made cellulose fibers is returning to our corporate headquarters in Lenzing,” said Friedrich Weninger, Member of the Management Board of the Lenzing Group and Chief Operating Officer responsible for the fiber business. “The Lenzing pilot plant was the place where 20 years ago the first marketable lyocell fibers in the history of the Lenzing Group were produced. They are now marketed around the world under the Tencel brand name.”
The new Tencel facility is of major strategic importance to the Lenzing site due to the fact that Tencel will also be produced on the premises in addition to the specialty fibers Lenzing Modal and Lenzing FR. Thus the facility in Lenzing will further expand its position as the main specialty fiber production site for the Lenzing Group. The geographical proximity to the European growth market for Tencel, the attractive energy costs as a consequence of the company’s own on-site power generation capabilities as well as the availability of a sufficient pool of qualified personnel and the closeness to the Tencel pilot plant were the main reasons underlying the decision to locate the new plant in Upper Austria.
Until now, production lines with an annual capacity of not more than 20,000 tons have been used. The current nominal production capacity of Tencel in the Lenzing Group totals approximately 140,000 tons a year, which will be increased to 150,000 tons per year thanks to the expansion program now being implemented in Mobile.
New applications are continually being developed. The optimal moisture management of the Tencel fibers makes it attractive for use in high quality home textiles such as quilts and bed linen, but also in ladies’ outerwear and activewear.
Tencel is also designed for sensitive segments such as cosmetics, hygiene and medicine, for example in wound dressings and baby wipes. Tencel is even used in the technical segment, for example to enhance the strength of plastics or to manufacture electro-technical components. The latest technical application is Tencel powder. It is deployed as a moisture regulator in foam mattresses and as additives to building materials, amongst other uses.