A New Synthesis Method and Characterization of Graphene Oxide Nanocomposites for the Leather Tanning Process

Shimul Chakma , Pronay Biswas, Md. Abdulla-Al-Mamun, Md. Abdul Mottalib, Fariha Chowdhury , Md. Abdul Goni

2024 / Volume 7 / Pages 738-769
Received 29 February 2024; Accepted 29 April 2024; Published 16 May 2024

Environmental pollution caused by wastes generated from chrome tan is a major concern nowadays. This study aimed to develop an eco-friendly alternative tanning agent using graphene oxide (GO) based nanocomposite materials. GO was synthesized by a new approach with modification of the Hummers method. Two types of GO-based nanocomposites, GO-TiO2 (GT) and GO-TiO2-PEG (GTP) were prepared by adding TiO2 nanoparticles and polyethylene glycol (PEG) as surface modifiers. They were successfully applied to leather tanning processes at different concentrations (2%, 4%, and 6%). Both synthesized GO, GO-nanocomposites, and the resulting tanned leathers were characterized by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), and Fourier-transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR). Different physico-mechanical properties of leathers tanned with nanocomposites were evaluated and the results were compared with chrome-tanned leathers. The tensile strength of chrome-tanned leather was 223 (kg/cm) whereas the maximum tensile strength was found at 228 (kg/cm) and 233 (kg/cm) in 6% GO-TiO2 and GO-TiO2-PEG tanned leathers respectively. The environmental pollution impact of the effluents generated by the new tanning process was assessed. The COD of effluents generated from chrome tanning was 4800 ppm which was significantly reduced to 2400-1440 ppm and 2880-1920 ppm when GO-TiO2 (GT) and GO-TiO2-PEG (GTP) were applied in leather tanning respectively. The TDS and BOD were found at 183.8 and 200 ppm in conventional chrome-tanned wastewater which were significantly reduced to the range of 47.5-18.3 and 100-50 ppm respectively in liquid wastes obtained from the GO-composite tanning process. The maximum reduction of COD, BOD, TDS, and TSS in leather waste liquid was found with the application of 2% GO-nanocomposites in tanning. The results revealed that leathers tanned with nanocomposites possess characteristic properties which were very similar to those observed in chrome-tanned leathers whereas the new tanning agents drastically reduced the intensity of pollutants in leather effluents. The application of new nanocomposites in the leather tanning process is an innovative effort. This new nanocomposite-tanning method showed minimal consequences regarding environmental pollution with the generation of less toxic effluents from the respective tanning process.

graphene oxide, nanocomposites, leather, tanning, synthesis, effluent, environment