The recovery of proteins from effluents of beamhouse operations in a hair-pulping process of hides is proposed. Precipitation with sulphuric acid at the isoelectric pH was chosen for protein recovery. The precipitates were characterized in order to study their potential uses. Apart from the protein nitrogen, the precipitate also contained a considerable content of fats resulting from the co-precipitation of natural fat of the hide in the wastewaters. The precipitation of the protein fraction resulted in a reduction of 80–85% of COD, whereas the protein content decreased 68–78%. This diminution of the contamination load led to a notable reduction of the tax on wastewater. The content of protein material in the precipitate varied from 15 to 44%. As expected, the protein in the precipitate did not result from the collagen decomposition of the hide but from soluble proteins such as albumin and globulin and remains of keratin. The precipitates obtained met the maximum limits of heavy metals according to legislation on organic fertilizers. The potential uses of the protein fraction recovered from tannery wastewaters are currently being investigated.
Keywords: beamhouse operations, contamination diminution, protein recovery, tannery