By Liz White, UT staffTokyo-Kuraray Co. Ltd is going to launch a new type of "eco-friendly" man-made leather in June 2006. The material, tradenamed Tirrenina, will combine the look and feel of natural leather "with the superior functionality unique to man-made leather," said Kuraray, in a statement on its website. Kuraray said it has developed an innovative new process to make the artificial leather that does not use organic solvents. And the company also claims to have resolved the problem often seen in water-based man-made leathers-which is a stiff texture. This has been achieved via new production processes and ultra-fine fibres, said the Tokyo-headquartered polymer group. Kuraray's material is based on its water-soluble polymer Exceval, a polyvinyl alcohol, and also uses water-based polyurethane and other emulsions. Other ingredients in the patented substrate are polyester and nylon, said Kuraray. To make the substrate these fibres and resins are intertwined in a three dimensional ultra-fine unwoven fabric, using Kuraray's newly developed processes, the firm said. The surface is a general polyurethane emulsion layer, giving moisture and air permeability. Typical uses for Tirrenina will lie in men's and women's shoes, sports shoes with superior abrasion resistance, and in automotive interior surfaces and car seats, where Kuraray says it has been granted patents for high-level durabilityKuraray said it aims to sell half a million sq.m of the material in its first year of sales and in the third year to reach 3 million sq.m."