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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Application of Tocopherol to Improve the Durability of Leather

Authors
item Liu, Cheng Kung
item Latona, Nicholas

Submitted to: Journal of American Leather Chemists Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 24, 2003
Publication Date: October 20, 2003
Citation: Liu, C., Latona, N.P. 2003. Application of tocopherol to improve the durability of leather. Journal of American Leather Chemists Assocation. 98(10):400-407.

Interpretive Summary: Durability of leather is a very important quality, particularly the ultra violet light (UV) and heat resistance for automobile applications. The fast growth in the domestic production of automotive leather to meet the demands of automakers magnifies the significance of this quality. Our essential objectives for this research are to develop a treatment process to counteract UV and heat degradation while producing minimum effluents (i.e., environmentally friendly) and yet significantly increasing the UV and heat resistance of leather. We applied Vitamin E and its derivatives to the grain layer of leather. The treated samples were exposed to artificial sunlight at high temperature and then evaluated for the efficacy of UV and heat resistance and by mechanical property testing for strength and stiffness. Observation showed that Vitamin E yielded the most promising results compared to its derivatives. Leather treated with Vitamin E resulted in significant improvement in mechanical strength and softness and, more importantly, increased strength retention and color fading resistance against UV radiation and heat. This research may benefit the leather industry in the production of high quality, durable leather, thereby contributing to the viability of the domestic tanning industry and its markets.

Technical Abstract: Durability of leather is a very important quality, particularly the UV and heat resistance for automobile applications. The fast growth in the domestic production of automotive leather to meet the demands of automakers magnifies the significance of this quality. Alfa Tocopherol (vitamin E) and its derivatives alpha-tocopheryl succinate and alpha-tocopheryl acetate are potent free radical scavengers and highly protective agents for collagen fibers against UV damage. Efforts were made to develop a treatment process that produces minimum effluents (i.e., environmentally friendly) and yet significantly increases the UV and heat resistance of a fibrous collagen material: leather. Tocopherol and its derivatives were applied to the grain layer of leather. The treated samples were exposed in a Fadeometer and then evaluated for the efficacy of UV and heat resistance and by Instron testing for mechanical properties (tensile strength and initial strain energy). Observation showed that tocopherol yielded the most promising results compared to its derivatives. Data showed that leather treated with tocopherol resulted in significant improvement in tensile strength and softness and, more importantly, increased strength retention and color fading resistance against UV radiation and heat.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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