“Study and research of innovative keratin-degradation techniques of bovine hair, that protect the collagen of skin” is the title of an interesting project just concluded by Corichem, a company specialising in tanning chemicals, and funded by the Veneto Region.
The purpose of this project – explains Corichem – was to develop Corichem’s knowledge in the field of keratin oxidative techniques in order to lay the foundations for the development of a new ecological technology for hair removal from hides with the recovery of amino acids.
The project was inspired by the principles of sustainability and was conducted with the collaboration of Prof. Giulia Licini of UNIPD.
The first part of the work consisted of a bibliographic research aimed at acquiring the basic knowledge of oxidations applied to keratins and at the selection of some possible degradation techniques of bovine hair.
The second part of the work consisted in experimenting different keratin degradation techniques on hair and on pieces of raw hides to study their effectiveness, kinetics, the energies involved, and to identify the most promising alternatives. Both innovative techniques based on oxidants such as percarbonates, peracids, enzymes, etc. have been tested, and the improvement of the existing technique based on hydrogen peroxide analysed, to eliminate the inconvenience of excessive heat release that damages the external part of collagen, which is the highest quality grade of leather.
“The tests carried out – concludes Corichem – allowed us to identify an original multistep method of hair removal from hides through a controlled oxidation, which does not develop heat, made with hydrogen peroxide and transition metal salts in a mild acid environment followed by a nucleophilic attack of the oxidised disulfide bridge and by a treatment with enzymes. The third part of the work helped us to validate the new technology we developed by testing it on the whole hide. This allowed us to lay excellent foundations for the future industrial development of this new technique of hair removal”.