Source: Textile Review

Lyocell is the first in a new generation of cellulosic fibers made by a solvent spinning process. A major driving force to its development was the demand for a process that was environmentally responsible and utilized renewable resources as their raw materials. The first samples were produced in 1984and commercial production started in 1988. A wide range of attractive textile fabrics can be made from Lyocell that are comfortable to wear and have good physical performance. This physical performance combined with its absorbency also makes Lyocell ideal for nonwoven fabrics and papers. The cellulose fibers produced by direct dissolution have the generic name of Lyocell. Cellulose is one of the most abundant natural resources on earth, and there has been extensive research on the films, plastics, and fibers from this material. The history of cellulose fibers dates back to the 1860s, when the first rayon fibers were commercialized by Courtaulds. But the so-called rayon process includes toxic chemical treatments to block hydroxyl groups of cellulose to prepare a spinnable solution, mostly it causing an ecological problem. Many attempts have been made to invent new solvents to directly dissolve cellulose, and some successful results have been reported. Among these, N-methylmorpholine-N-oxide (NMMO) hydrate turned out to be the best solvent, leading to the commercial success of cellulose fibers under the trade name of Tencel by Courtaulds in 1994.

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Originally Published in Textile Review, Feb-2011

The authors are associated with Kumaraguru College of Technology, Coimbatore.