Selective degradation and oxidation of hemicellulose in corncob to oligosaccharides: From biomass into masking agent for sustainable leather tanning

Zhicheng Jiang, Mi Gao, Wei Ding, Chenjun Huang, Changwei Hu, Bi Shi, Daniel C.W. Tsang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Chrome-free metal tanning agent has been considered as eco-friendly in the leather industry. However, extensive crosslinking reactions of metal species on the leather surface restrain their uniform penetration into the hierarchical nanoscale leather matrix. Thus, masking agents with appropriate coordination ability are needed. Herein, the selective degradation of hemicellulose in corncob was achieved with 92.5% of conversion in an AlCl3–H2O system, obtaining oligosaccharides masking agent with high purity and leaving cellulose and lignin in the solid residue for other valuable use. Subsequently, H2O2 oxidation was performed to introduce –CHO/–COOH into oligosaccharides and reduce their molecular weights, thereby enhancing coordination ability and reducing ligand dimension. The post-oxidized reaction fluids together with additional Zr species were subjected to leather tanning, in which the oligosaccharides could coordinate with Al/Zr species and promote the penetration of metal species into the leather matrix. By controlling the hemicellulose degradation and oligosaccharide oxidation, an appropriate concentration of oligosaccharides with proper –CHO/–COOH contents allowed the efficient masking effect of the oligosaccharides. As a result, a uniform distribution of Al/Zr species was observed on the cross section, and 83.5 °C of shrinkage temperature was obtained for the chrome-free tanned leather.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125425
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021


  • Chrome-free tanning
  • HO oxidation
  • Microwave-assisted conversion
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Selective degradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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