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Thai researchers present a pineapple leaf leather innovation

In a significant development within the bio-based materials sector, researchers from Mahidol University in Thailand have innovated a method to produce leather utilizing pineapple leaf fibers. This new material not only mimics the properties of genuine leather but also surpasses the performance of other plant-based leathers currently available. The process involves the use of natural rubber to bind the fibers, eliminating the need for chemical treatments or the addition of plastics, marking a considerable advancement in sustainable material production.

The creation of this pineapple leaf fiber (PALF) leather involves a straightforward methodology where the leaves, a by-product of pineapple harvest, undergo cleaning, chopping, grinding into paste, drying, and sieving to separate the fibrous material. Following this, the fibers are treated with sodium hydroxide, washed, and then formed into sheets using a silkscreen method akin to paper-making, before being coated with natural latex and subjected to heat and compression. This results in a durable material with promising tensile strength, tear resistance, and hardness, as confirmed by scanning electron microscope analyses and physical tests conducted by the researchers.

Despite having a lower tensile strength and tear resistance compared to traditional animal leathers, the PALF leather showed remarkable superiority over other commercial leather alternatives, notably outperforming MuSkin, a mushroom-based leather, in terms of toughness. Furthermore, the material's ability to be naturally stained with various substances, from carrot to coffee, demonstrates its versatility and the potential for a range of applications without resorting to harmful tanning chemicals.

This breakthrough indicates a viable and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional leather, with implications for the leather industry's move towards more sustainable practices. The researchers emphasize the potential of this material to contribute to a more eco-friendly future, highlighting its scalability for production and use in various consumer products such as clothing, bags, and shoes.


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