Saturday, June 22, 2024

Tough new pineapple leather is 60X stronger than other materials

Leather is still better but not by a great deal while everything else is terrible.  considering we no longer use leather for the soles of our shoes without putting toppy coat on ,this suggests that PLAF will work fine in shoe manufacture.

Recall leather is a by product of animal husbandry and never benefits the farmer or even the slaughter house.  There is also a lot of wastage.  for all that the replacement with a comparable product produced in sheets is actually welcome.

If this can be mass produced successfully, we will have an excellent fabric with a neat feel for hard use applications like furniture and shoes.  and the end of faux plastic leather.

All good.

Tough new pineapple leather is 60X stronger than other materials

June 17, 2024

The leather produced with pineapple leaf fibers outperformed other plant-based materials

In a breakthrough for bio-based materials, scientists have made leather from the fibers of discarded pineapple leaves that's comparable to the real thing and also outperforms other existing plant products. The strong and sustainable material, which comprehensively outperformed mushroom-based leather, has great potential to be produced at much larger scale for everything from clothing to bags and shoes.

Using natural rubber for adhesion, researchers from Thailand's Mahidol University created this 100% bio-based pineapple leaf fiber (PALF) leather through a simple process that does away with chemical treatment or additional plastics, which they say is a "significant" step forward.

"This research showcases a sustainable and economically viable alternative to traditional leather, with the potential to revolutionize the leather industry and contribute to a more environmentally friendly future," the team noted.

Leather from pineapple leaves
Mahidol University

While animal leather alternatives are not new, they have so far come with significant challenges. 'Vegan leather,' which relies heavily on plastics in production, may be better for animals but not necessarily the planet, and has been shown to have a much shorter lifespan. There have been major steps forward in using other natural fibers, such as those found in fungi, but their mechanical properties (toughness, tear resistance) have been an ongoing issue.

So what makes pineapple a more likely source for a leather that's produced sustainably and holds its own when it comes to wear and tear? It all comes down to the extraction and preparation of the tiny fibers. The leaves – a plentiful byproduct – were cleaned and chopped into 6-mm-wide pieces. These were then ground into a thick green paste and dried, then sieved to separate non-fibrous material from the pineapple leaf fibers (PALF). The researchers then prepared both untreated PALF (UPALF) and fibers that were mixed with sodium hydroxide and washed (TPALF), to create different leather properties, and spread out on a silkscreen, similar to paper-making processes. Finally, a thin coat of natural latex was applied to the unwoven, flattened fiber sheets, which were then exposed to 70 °C (158 °F) for 24 hours and later compressed.

The researchers landed on a treatment that, when analyzed using a scanning electron microscope, had a structure that performed best in tensile and tear strength tests and optimal hardness. These leather sheets were also treated with a variety of natural stains, from carrot to coffee, to demonstrate how a variety of tones could be achieved without needing any of the toxic chemicals used in commercial tanning.

The various applications and stains for 'tanning' the material and achieving texture
Ornwipa Mongkondaw

While the PALF leather had lower tensile strength and tear resistance to what is expected of animal leathers, they were comparable when the researchers performed their own tests, suggesting natural variability in traditional materials. PALF, however, was especially impressive when measured up against existing commercial leather alternatives, showing to have a tensile strength of 12.3 MPa, more than 60 times tougher than MuSkin (made from Phellinus ellipsoideus mushrooms) at 0.2 MPa. This poor 'wear and tear' factor has been one of the large concerns with mushroom and some other plant-based leather alternatives.

PALF was nearly three times stronger and had a tear resistance of almost double that of existing pineapple leaf leather Pinatex.

Mechanical properties of PALF leather compared with other leather alternatives

Amornsakchai et al

The research team, led by Professor Taweechai Amornsakchai, plans to now work on adjusting the material's feel, to have it more closely resemble the softness typical of animal leather.

The research was published in the journal Sustainability and Amornsakchai explains the leather-making process in this 2019 video.

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