The production of leather is traditionally based on the use of tanning agents that are able to form cross-links between collagen fibers and thus convert raw hide into leather. This theory has been followed for more than a hundred years. Here we have implemented tannin-free leather production, which was achieved through controlled dehydration of the pelt with ethanol, followed by a superhydrophobic coating. The controlled dehydration of the fur guaranteed a high dispersity of the collagen fibers with significantly improved porosity, and the dehydrated fur with a water content of ≤ 8.90% showed leather-like properties. The superhydrophobic coating significantly improved the water repellency of the dehydrated pelt, which prevented the re-absorption of water by the dehydrated pelt, so that the leather could have stable leather-like properties in the prepared state. It is noteworthy that tannin-free leather exhibited physical properties comparable to conventional chrome-tanned leather, including tensile strength (19.24 N mm.).−2), Tensile strength (94.27 N), elongation at break (49.57%) and fullness. The tannin-free leather production strategy we have developed could open up a new way of realizing environmentally friendly leather production.

Graphic summary: Leather production free of tannins made possible by the dispersity of collagen fibers in combination with a superhydrophobic coating


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