If you are wondering why we have brought our What’s New in Leather Chemicals supplement forward to July, the answer is simple. Its normal September slot coincides with the All China Leather Exhibition, in Shanghai, which is growing in importance.

The clash of dates is not ideal as we have discovered several companies who are not ready to release details of their new products until September. July and August are regarded as summer holiday months in Europe where the majority of the chemicals companies are based. Although this is a strictly European phenomenon, many companies time their releases to be ready for the new season of exhibitions which commences in September and builds towards Tanning Tech in November.

There are a number of new products which have come or are coming onto the market, however. Among the more notable is Dupont’s Teflon Leather Protector which is aimed at the market previously dominated by 3M’s Scotchgard.

When it was announced that 3M were planning a withdrawal of their existing Scotchgard products, it left the field wide open for competitors to enter the field. 3M have only recently announced that they are planning to introduce a new generation of protective treatments for leather by the autumn.

Dupont are currently riding high. Not only have they extended their Leather with Lycra range to include washable leather with Lycra, which has made it into the latest lingerie collections, but they have won the latest round in their patent litigation to revoke the French Guenoun patent.

There are more new products in the pipeline which are associated with Dr Tony Covington, who is a professor at the British School of Leather Technology and also heavily involved in the joint-venture research company set up with the BLC.

Covington, together with Professor Christine Evans of Westminster University, has come up with a product called Klenzyme which is a breakthrough in enzyme technology for cleaner industry. Apply Klenzyme to the hides and one hour later the dung drops off.

Klenzyme can even be applied to the live animal with the same result. Defra in the UK object to this treatment as they prefer dry cattle rather than wet ones, but Covington assured me that the only effect the cattle would feel would be wetting. The enzyme works solely on the dung. Since the dung is attached to the hair, the epidermis is not involved in any way.

The mechanism for fast dung degradation is based on opening up the structure with lignin and hemicellulose degrading enzymes and breaking down the fibrous structure of cellulose. Full details of the research work are published in the May edition of JALCA.

Negotiations are currently taking place with Clariant for the distribution of Klenzyme, though they are not expected to be involved in the manufacture of the product.

A second new product is the result of work by Covington with Novo of Copenhagen. Called Novocor AX, the product is sprinkled into the neutralisation process with the wet-blue and gives a 9% increase in the area yield. The product has been in use in Scotland for the past six months with excellent results.

The idea of increasing area yield through the use of enzymes is not new, but the quality can be compromised by a weakening of the leather. The new enzyme formulation not only increases yield but also provides softness. Covington was giving a lecture on Enzymology and Skin Structure when the idea came to him.

Covington is a great believer in the benefits of fundamental research, lateral thinking and gifted MSc students. His latest idea, which is currently being investigated, could prove to be the ultimate formaldehyde scavenger.