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Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering

Print version ISSN 0104-6632

Abstract

SOUZA, F. R. de  and  GUTTERRES, M.. Application of enzymes in leather processing: a comparison between chemical and coenzymatic processes. Braz. J. Chem. Eng. [online]. 2012, vol.29, n.3, pp. 473-482. ISSN 0104-6632.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-66322012000300004.

The use of biotechnology by tanneries has increased in recent years. Enzymes can be applied during different steps of the leather production process: soaking, dehairing, bating, dyeing, degreasing or in effluent and solid waste treatment. This study evaluated the performance of five commercial enzymes in soaking and unhairing/liming by comparing the chemical and coenzymatic processes. Tests were conducted in bench drums to evaluate the action of enzymes during each stage. Concentration, processing time and type of enzyme were varied. Total organic carbon and soluble protein were used to measure the efficiency of the processes. Enzymatic activity assays on collagen, keratin and lipid and scanning electron microscopic (SEM) analyses of hides were used to complement the study. Coenzymatic processes generally showed better results in comparison to chemical processes. The enzymes showed activity on all substrates, and the SEM analyses of the hides showed a clear difference between the chemical and coenzymatic processes.

Keywords : Leather processing; Beamhouse; Biotechnology; Enzyme; Enzymatic activity.

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