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Fur biodegradability

Fur biodegradability study and development of an optimal biodegradation system.

Mankind began to produce fur/leather very early in our history. The base material, animal hide, was available as a by-product of animal killing. Those hides were used for clothing and shelter was demanded by the necessary economy of early man's existence. Deterioration and bacterial action begin shortly after the death of an animal and an unmodified animal skin must be chemically and structurally modified for any long-term use. One can correctly interpret the deterioration of fur only by understanding both the composition of it and the environment in which it deteriorates. Quantitative assessment of the interaction rate of the deteriorative factors can be challenging due to the number of variables that must be considered. During decomposition, a body will create heat, gradually liquefy, and change the chemical environment of the immediate microenvironment. Water levels, soil type, temperature, relative humidity, oxygen levels, the presence and type of surrounding flora and fauna, and the level of direct sunlight or tree cover are all factors to be considered in the assessment of deterioration rates. In addition to environmental factors, composition and type of fur also affect deterioration rates. Fur is subject to differential decay depending on composition, dyes, surface finishes, and treatments. The manufacturing of fur involves a series of steps intended to halt the natural deterioration of the material and to improve on its handling properties. The immediate treatment is to salt the hide to stop putrefaction, but the most important long term treatment is called tanning. Tanning makes leather resistant to putrefaction and pliable even when it is dry. There is a chemical change brought on by the 'tanning agents' which are used in the process. The tanning agents react with the proteins of the skin and thus produce the desired effects of stabilisation and pliability. Even though fur conservation is of prior importance, the disposal of end-of life fur garments is raising concerns. Chemical agents used by tanning industry in order to process fur, are a potent inhibitor factor for fur biodegradability. In simple terms, biodegradability measures the ability of microorganisms present in the disposal environment to completely consume the bio carbon product within a reasonable time frame and in the specified environment. Microorganisms present in the disposal environments consume the carbon product to extract chemical energy for their life processes. They do so by: 1. Breaking the material (carbohydrates, carbon product) into small molecules by secreting enzymes or the environment (temperature, humidity, sun light) does it. 2. Transporting the small molecules inside the micro-organisms cell. 3. Oxidising the small molecules (again inside the cell) to CO2 and water, and releasing energy that is utilised by the microorganisms for its life processes in a complex biochemical process involving participation of three metabolically interrelated processes (tricarboxylic acid cycle, electron transport, and oxidative phosphorylation). This project is being proposed with increasing concerns regarding the impact of fur industry on the environment. The aim of the project is to determine and present an optimal fur biodegradation system. The main objectives of the proposed project are: * Method development for fur biodegradability assessment; * Determination of parameters affecting fur biodegradation; * Comparative analysis of raw and tanned hide biodegradation rate. Impact of tanning operations on fur biodegradability; * Evaluation of real/fake fur garment biodegradability.
Acronym: 
BIOFUR
Project ID: 
5 770
Start date: 
01-09-2011
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
870 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Biotreatment / Compost / Bioconversion
Market Area: 
Other pollution and recycling related

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