Sheepskin Value May Be Improving
May 16, 2014

A research breakthrough in New Zealand could net its economy $125 million each year by combining cutting-edge technology with something New Zealand famously has in abundance - sheep. In discovering why sheepskin is weak, a young Massey University Ph.D. student has provided the foundation for nanotechnology that can strengthen sheep leather for use in shoes and other products.

New research has helped identify the fundamental aspects of the collagen network that contribute to the intrinsic strength of leather. Using a $206 million machine based in Australia that allows scientists to peer into the structure of many different species and leathers processed by different methods, it revealed that sheep leather was weak because its major structural proteins were poorly aligned compared to the stronger bovine leather. Scientists are now taking this work forward to develop a technique that strengthens sheep leather so it could be used in high value products like shoes.

Reprinted in part from New Zealand Herald