Smit & zoon files patent on bio-based leather retanning chemicals
Smit & zoon filed a European patent application for ‘lignin modified polyphenolic leather chemicals’. This makes the company the first leather chemical company to use lignin modified polyphenolic in its products. Its product development team is currently testing ligninbased products.
Dr. Yujie Ma, R&D scientist, and Ms. Petra Berends, Product technologist, both member of the bio-based platform within Smit & zoon’s research department, lead the research on using lignin in retanning agents. The patent describes the smart utilization of industrial lignin to mix with phenol in the production of otherwise 100% petro-based polyphenolic retanning chemicals. Part of the phenol in the concerning products is replaced by lignin during the chemical conversion process. Trials with lignin-based products are currently taking place. Dr. Ma is pleased with the first results: “First trials show a great outcome on leather. The lignin-based products bring fullness and softness and result in an equal and intense dye.”
Bio-based platform Smit & zoon’s Bio-based platform aims to increase the bio-based content and the degree of biodegradability in the company’s leather chemical portfolio. This is in line with Smit & zoon’s CSR ambition to play a catalyzing role in making the leather value chain largely sustainable by 2025.A natural polymer Lignin is a natural cross-linked polyphenol derived from biomass that is formed in the cell walls of wood or agricultural crops and plants providing structural strength. Lignin constitutes about 20-35% of the mass of every tree or plant and is the most abundant natural aromatic resource. As a by-product from the pulp and paper industry, lignin is currently mainly burned to generate energy.