Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Developing water resistant and oil resistant leather

This project was proposed by a group of tanneries from UK, Republic of Ireland, Italy and Sweden and supported by EC funding through Craft Programme of EC 4th frame work. The UK leather research organisation, BLC - Leather Technology Centre and Italian leather research centre, SSIP had been chosen to carry out the research work. The prime aim of the project was: to improve the capability of producing leather with consistently good water resistance and oil repellence by the participating tanneries and European tanners as whole through the deep understanding of water resistant and oil resistant processes and chemicals; also modern environment friendly processing techniques (supercritical CO2 method) will be investigated to evaluate its potential for use in leather waterproofing process and post tanning process as whole.

During the two years' periods, the following work was carried out:
- 16 Leathers from market leaders and participating Tanneries (SME) were evaluated by using 9 test methods in two laboratories. This gave the benchmark for the starting point of the project and also the large amount of data obtained allowed us to evaluate the test methods critically. Modern analytical methods have been used to assess the differences between the leathers from market leaders and SMEs.
- 37 commercially available water resistant and oil resistant chemicals were screened and 15 were evaluated critically by using three different substrate for different purpose under strictly controlled laboratory processing conditions. This exercise gave us up-to-date information about available commercial water resistant and oil resistant chemicals.
- The surface properties of leather made above were assessed by using modern methods and finishes formulated and applied successfully to exceed industrial standard.
- Supercritical CO2 had been used to impregnate water/oil resistant chemicals and dye into leather with full penetration.
- The SMEs have started to implement the results from this work in their productions.

The major benefits of this project:
- The water resistant and oil resistant leather market had been assessed in term of performance.
- 9 water resistant test methods had been evaluated critically and a new test regime had been proposed.
- The research organisations have gained much desired expertise about water resistant and oil resistant leather (ways to reduce inconsistency and fundamentals) and the benefit had been passed to the participating tanneries and some other EC tanneries.
- The participating tanneries have developed new, improved products through the project
- BLC had developed a protocol, first of its kind, which could predict and assess the water resistant and oil resistant performance at structural and chemical level. The method had been used successfully in guiding the research work and solving problems.
- Supercritical CO2 had been proven to be a suitable method for impregnating dyes and water resistant, oil resistant chemicals into leather with full penetration and many benefits (environmental, process and production).

Reported by

BLC Leather Technology Centre
Northampton
United Kingdom
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