AbstractA UK technology valorisation company seeks methods and materials, including keratinase enzymes, for dehairing of skins. The hope is to find mild reaction conditions that will allow obviating the issue of toxic chemicals currently used. The type of collaboration is likely to be joint further development. The UK company will manage the project and seek funding.
DetailsA UK technology valorisation company has received enquiries from the leather industry and is hoping to find and develop some technology for use prior to the tanning process.
Dehairing is one process used to prepare leather, and involves removing the hair attached to the hides and skins. Current solutions involve the use of toxic chemicals (e.g. lime and sodium sulphide) which completely dissolve the hair and whilst these chemicals are effective, they are unpleasant to use and result in wastewater that requires further treatment.
It is believed that by using modern bioprocessing and enzymes, the pollution cannot be treated but avoided in the first place. Similarly, mild or green chemistry would be of interest.
Keratinases that could be effective come from different species and have different specificity. For the current application, one would need a form that is not active against collagen. The enzymatic reaction conditions are listed under Specific Requirements.
Proposals may come from research into keratinases or perhaps poultry processing industry. Ideally, there will be intellectual property involved and some way to demonstrate the material or method.
Technical Specifications / Specific technical requirements:
The proposed enzyme or chemistry should be specific towards keratin but not against collagen.
The reaction conditions should be mild: pH between 4…10 and temperature <50oC.
The time of reaction should be <12 hours.