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What is lyocell?

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Lyocell is a regenerated fiber that consists of cellulosic raw material i.e. wood pulp. A form of rayon, lyocell is a biodegradable fiber and was first developed in 1972 by American Enka, North Carolina. The word lyocell is a Greek word that can be broken into lyo derived from lyein meaning dissolve and cell from the cellulose. Lyocell is a generic name assigned by BISFA (International Bureau for Standardisation of Rayon and Synthetic fiber, Brussels) and Federal Trade Commission, USA.

Although, the lyocell fabric research was initiated by American Enka, soon the work on the fabric was stopped and thus the process of making lyocell by softening of cellulose and then spinning it into fiber was perfected by a British company called Courtaulds fibers, the United Kingdom in the 1980s and they developed a fabric with the trade name Tencel.

Courtaulds soon enhanced its production and set up a new plant in Alabama but the fabric did not gain much popularity until the 1990s and soon was overtaken by Akzo Nobel in 1998 who further sold the Tencel patent to a private equity firm, CVC partners. And in 2000, Lenzing AG, Austria based textile giant acquired the Tencel patent.

The bio-based fabric, however, gained significant importance in the 20th century and has now replaced many synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester. The lyocell fiber can be blended easily with various natural and synthetic fibers and is majorly consumed by the apparel sector for its properties such as breathability, comfort, soft hand and lightweight.

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