Production of a natural plant crosslinker from olive waste for leather tanning

Funding: Funding Programme Eurostar/EUREKA
Project Duration: 01.10.2008 - 30.04.2011
Project Manager: Julia Börsmann
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The aim of the project is the development of a new environmentally friendly process for leather tanning based on the use of a pre-activated active agent obtained from olive residues. It is expected that this new tanning agent will cross-link the leather collagen structure with covalent bond, resulting in a leather with analogous properties with the conventional glutaraldehyde-tanned leather (“wet-white?? process) in terms of softness and stability of the chemical bonds (i.e.perspiration resistance).

Activated formulations prepared on the basis of olive residues will be investigated for their applicability in the stabilisation (pre-tanning) of the leather material by performing tanning tests. A sufficient mechanical stability of the treated leather material has to be achieved, enabling a dewatering (sammying) capacity and handling ability during the adjustment of the thickness by the conventionally used shaving procedure. In further investigation steps a new and adjusted process for post tanning operations (i.e. retanning/filling, dyeing and fatliquoring of the leather) will be also developed for the new intermediate product. The novel tanning agent will enable the leather manufacturing industry in Germany and Europe to substitute conventional chemical tanning agents, especially chrome tanning agents and reactive organic-synthetic tannins, in the central step of leather production.

The new tanning process will generate a significant less-damaging solid waste (i.e. less chemical reactants) which will provide the European Leather Industry with an enormous ecological advantage and competitiveness by using an environmental friendly production process.