Innovators Create Oil-Repellent Vegan Leather

Researchers develop a new type of synthetic leather that is self-cleaning, non-sticky, and liquid repellent.


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Ohio State University researchers recently developed a new type of synthetic leather. Inspired by the texture of lotus leaves, professor Bharat Bhushan and doctoral student Dev Gurera nano-engineered a self-cleaning glass and mesh in order to mimic the leaves’ water-repelling surface. The mesh was then used as a coating on samples of synthetic leather—polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride—to test its durability. Through the experiments, researchers found that the coating remained non-sticky up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, and water- and oil-based liquids rolled off when tilted, leaving the material undamaged. When compared to uncoated synthetic leather, researchers were able to wash away 90 percent more dirt from the coated material. “Today, the market for synthetic leather is growing because it’s less expensive and easier to work with,” Bhushan said. A recent market research report predicts the vegan leather industry will reach $45 billion by 2025 as innovators create more plant-based alternatives to animal-based leather.

Photo courtesy of Free People