Smit & zoon files pa­tent on bio-based leather re­tan­ning chem­i­cals

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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.

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