Innovative polymer technology provider, Xeros has renamed the sustainable tanning technologies part of its business to Qualus. The newly launched brand took part in the Innovation Square at the recent Lineapelle fair held in Milan, September 25-27 showcasing some of the production leathers made using its XOrb polymer spheres.

 Matched sided hides comparing a conventional retanning process with a process using the Qualus XOrb polymer spheres were displayed. Bovine leathers on show included automotive car seat and steering wheel leathers, full grain footwear upper and waterproof nubuck for shoes. “We are currently working with 15 tanneries in Europe, North America and Mexico using our XOrb polymer spheres to reduce water and chemicals in the post tanning operations as well as preserving, and sometimes even enhancing the quality of the finished leather,” Vikrant Pratap, Managing Director, Qualus, explained.

Full production trials of the technology have taken place in the tanning process, but currently the technology is only commercially available for post tanning operations. The innovative polymer bead technology has already been running commercially at the Wollsdorf Leder tannery in Austria and Le Farc in Mexico. It is able to reduce the amount of water in the drum between 37-39%, depending on application, and can make savings in terms of chemical usage for the retanning, dyeing and fatliquoring steps between 11-15%.

“Not only can this process make savings on water and chemical consumption, it is able to achieve a higher uptake of the chemicals and therefore also reduces the amount of waste from the process,” says David Cutner, Director of tannery Operations at Qualus. “We believe we can reduce the amount of water in the process by up to 30 litres per hide and significantly reduce the overall COD levels in the tannery wastewater.”

As well as the environmental savings for the tanner, Qualus claims that the XOrb technology can improve the tightness of the grain and reduce the amount of neck and belly wrinkles on the crust or finished hides. The polymer technology can be used for all types of leather, including garment and leather goods. For the time being the company is focussing on bovine leather processors, but the company believe that there is no reason why the technology cannot also be used on small skins such as sheep or goat.

Earlier in September, Xeros announced a ten-year contract with leading Mexican tannery, LE FARC, to use Xeros’ patented polymer technology.

From ILM