Yi Zhang from the New Zealand Leather and Shoe Research Association (LAZRA) in Palmerston North, New Zealand, presented the research topic “What makes leather stronger? A mechanistic study on the effect of natural/artificial cross-links on tensile strength using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS)”. From this research project, mechanisms which directly contribute to the production of strong leather will be established, which can be further applied on the exploration of novel syntans or other tannages with similar cross-linking chemistry to the cross-links known to work by this study. The project will also help understand the role of mineral tannages on physical properties, and to find environment-friendly alternatives with equivalent effects.

“This year we have received a large number of innovative research topics and the quality of the applications has also improved”, says Dr Luis Zugno, who chairs the IUR. The €1,500 monetary award sponsored by automotive equipment supplier, Lear Corporation, seeks to support the work of young talent in the leather sector.