Building plane from leather waste

Building a plane from leather waste

1:35 PM, 1st August 2015
Building a plane from leather waste

CHENNAI: While leather is used to make shoes and other accessories, leather waste can be used to make an aircraft.

Don’t think too hard, scientists at Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) have found a way to use leather solid waste to make a nano-composite material that is tough enough to make the body of a car, bike or aircraft, besides light weight construction material, electrical switches, computer cabinets, insulation and ropes, reported the Indian newspaper, Times Of India (TOI).

Dust generated from buffing leather, a process to get a smooth surface on the leather, is combined with a polymer and certain nanoparticles to make the material that is almost close to metal in terms of strength. The polymer could be epoxy or synthetic rubber while the nanoparticles, which act as reinforcement, could be titanium dioxide or silicon dioxide.

Senior scientist V Sivakumar said once combined, they undergo a curing process in which heat is passed to harden or toughen the material. “The proportion of the three components used in developing the composite material varies with the thickness and toughness required,” he said. CLRI director S R Wate said that the technology, developed as part of CSIR-CLRI Zeris project under the 12th research plan, has been patented, said the leading English daily newspaper.

Buffing dust is a micro fine solid particulate that has chromium, synthetic fat, oil, tanning agents and dye chemicals. Nearly 745 kg of solid waste is generated during the processing of 1000 kg raw hide into leather. Approximately 1 percent of it will be buffing dust. About 2 kg to 6 kg of buffing dust is formed per tonne of hide processed.

Unused, the chemicals present in leather solid waste which includes buffing dust cause environmental pollution. But when the same buffing dust is combined with polymer and nanoparticles, it adds porosity and heat resistance to the composite due to the presence of chemicals like chromium. Other properties like tensile strength, hardness and chemical resistance get enhanced through nano-reinforcement in the composite using buffing dust. In Germany, an aircraft has been made with a polymer material, but not using buffing dust.

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