Chemistry PhD student presents at 6th leather conference in the Netherlands

A third year Chemistry PhD student, Omaymah Alaysuy, presented at the 6th leather conference in Oisterwijk, the Netherlands. Her research on processing leather using deep eutectic solvents, discussed in her talk, was published in World Leather Magazine. Originally from Saudi Arabia, the doctoral student told the conference deep eutectic solvents will allow tanners to save large volumes of water and reduce the amount of effort and expense required to manage tannery waste.


Omaymah’s presentation captured the attention of even the most senior technical experts and representatives of the global leather industry at Oisterwijk. At the conference, she spoke about her work on how deep eutectic solvents (DES) can be used in leather production.

She explained that she has spent time recently at the tannery that the University of Northampton runs as part of its Institute for Creative Leather Technologies putting her ideas to the test on materials including sheepskin. She evaluated the performance of DES in tanning, retanning, tatliquoring and dyeing. Ms Alaysuy described DES as a mix of two simple salts that combine to form a liquid. "The main concept is to place an active ingredient, with high concentration and low waste, inside the hide," she explained. "We can take a piece of hide or skin, apply our mixture to the surface and see the hide absorb it with no apparent loss of the collagen structure."

Obvious benefits include a large saving in water and a large reduction in the amount of effort and expense required to manage tannery waste. Fielding a lengthy series of questions from the floor, Omaymah Alaysuy assured delegates that the DES will not rinse out during processing and produces material with an attractive, soft touch. She also said using DES will not hinder the use of other important leather chemicals, including basifying agents.

She confirmed that work is ongoing to increase the shrinkage temperature of the hides and skins processed using DES, which is currently around 80°C compared to around 100°C for chrome-tanned leather produced in the traditional way. A major leather chemicals firm told World Leather at the event that it has signed a non-disclosure agreement to work with the University of Northampton on deep eutectic solvents.

World Leather

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