LANXESS starts series production of modular X-Biomer plants

  • Cooperation with Hüni as technology partner for engineering and asset realization
  • In situ production improves sustainability profile
Modular plant for resource-efficient manufacture of leather chemicals. This plant allows tanneries to recycle shavings from leather production directly on-site and use these to produce X-Biomer retanning agents fully automatically. Photo: LANXESS AG

With its modular plant concept ReeL (resource-efficient manufacture of leather chemicals), the specialty chemicals company LANXESS is embarking on the next phase of commercialization. To produce the container-sized production modules, LANXESS has joined forces with Hüni AG, which is based in Switzerland, to jointly work on initial customer projects. In this partnership, LANXESS and Hüni will elaborate the individual concepts for initial customers, with Hüni focusing primarily on plant engineering and construction of the modules, while LANXESS will contribute its chemical process engineering and application expertise to the X-Biomer production.

The innovative ReeL technology was developed by the LANXESS Leather business unit in partnership with the German companies Invite and Heller-Leder. It is used for recycling shavings from leather production in the tannery directly on-site and using these to produce X-Biomer retanning agents fully automatically. This approach completely eliminates any of the costs involved in transporting the materials to recycling companies or for disposal.

Since November 2017, and as part of the ReeL project, which is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), LANXESS has been running a pilot plant for in-situ production of the retanning agent X-Biomer at and together with the Heller-Leder tannery in Hehlen in Lower Saxony, Germany. The process has been tested under real-life production conditions and developed to market readiness. Six different X-Biomer product types have already been developed. A range of other exciting applications are in the research pipeline.

Dr. Dietrich Tegtmeyer, head of the ReeL project at LANXESS: “These plants dramatically improve the sustainability profile. On the one hand, in-situ and just-in-time production helps to save a great amount of logistics and packaging resources; on the other hand, we no longer have to dispose of shavings as waste products because we can now use them as a raw material for the required retanning chemicals.”

X-Biomer is a fundamental element of LANXESS’s Sustainable Leather Management program. “Leather is already a climate-neutral product. X-Biomer products help to increase the climate-neutrality of leathers even further so that one day we might be able to get close to 100%. The partnership with Hüni AG, one of the most renowned plant and automation technology providers in the leather industry, will help us to achieve this goal even more quickly,” says Dr. Thomas Brackemeyer, head of the Organic Leather Chemicals business line at LANXESS.

Further information on the products and services offered by the LANXESS’s Leather business unit is available at



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