Car industry is highly demanding for low emission parameters and despite remarkable results have been achieved since the last decade, the requests are day by day more sophisticated. The focus on emission is a severe task and requires the investigation on emissions on full-range and involves the expertise of multi and inter disciplinal competences.
The leather industry is a clear key ring for car interior suppliers and it is also focusing on more sustainable processes and reducing the emission of pollutants to the environment, prompting the commitment of leather suppliers, tanneries, and chemical auxiliaries producers. From our perspective, in fact, one of the major problems that car interior producers are currently facing is the production of low-emitting leather, which requires special chemical auxiliaries to be achieved.
In this context, our research has focused on the study of VOC volatile substances from car interiors, in particular on finishing systems, aiming at their reduction without losing the original performances of the finished leather article. Our investigation focused on full grain finished leathers, evaluating the contribution to the VOC emission from crust leather to the finished articles. A preliminary study showed that silicon compounds family brought an important contribution to the emission from a qualitative and quantitative perspective: these substances play a crucial role in terms of the final article performances (such as resistance), and quality. So, our investigation focused on innovative silicon-free auxiliary combination to give low VOC emission contribution from the leather compared with the same performances of the original silicon containing finishing. In order to evaluate the impact of the emissions, a series of analyses of the volatiles were performed: static headspace VDA 277 (and/or PV3341) analysis and active air sampling analysis GS 97014-3 type were performed, indicating that silicon contribution was very high in the emission. In addition, the quality of the leather was also assessed and characterised through standard automotive tests such as stick-slip, abrasion trials with Taber tester and Martindale machine, ball plate method, fogging test; rub fastness provided with Veslic tester (wet, dry, alcohol, gasoline), dry-rubbing trial with Gakushin tester. The set of result showed that standard leather containing silicon compounds on the finishing produced high VOC emission and high performance articles, thus contributing to VOC emission. Conversely, the novel finishing auxiliaries had low VOC emission, no silicons, yet high performance leather and therefore should be chosen from a more environmental point of view.