Tanning emu skins: an assessment of the processes, the leather properties, and the potential for chromium reduction



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Texas Tech University


The tanning of ratite skins has not been actively practiced in the United States. There is scant literature available on the tanning and properties of ratite skins. In this context, the Leather Research Institute at Texas Tech University has undertaken an experimental program to tan emu skins and then investigate the potential for this leather to be used as a commercial product. The traditional chrome tanning process was used in the tanning of emu skins. An Instron Universal Testing Machine (Model 1122) was used to estimate the strength of the tanned leather. The leather was characterized by the thinness and the presence of pores from where the feathers were removed. The strength of the leather was almost 50% of the strength of bovine leather.

It was also decided to investigate the recoverability of chromium from the spent tan liquor. The available literature on treating the tannery effluent was reviewed and it was decided to use the widely accepted method of chemical precipitation of chromium by pH adjustment. Lime was used as the precipitating agent. This resulted in a 99.9 percent removal of chromium at a pH of 8.5 while the removal of other parameters like COD and solids was not encouraging. A methodology was devised from the results to recover and reuse the chromium from the spent tan liquor but no tests using this methodology have been conducted.



Hides and skins, Emus, Tanning