Determining the kinetics of paper degradation in low oxygen atmospheres

Pass, Ami, Colston, Belinda and Knight, Barry (2013) Determining the kinetics of paper degradation in low oxygen atmospheres. In: Eastern Analytical Symposium and Exposition, 18-20 November 2013, New Jersey, USA.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Lecture)
Item Status:Live Archive


Oxidative degradation is one of the main mechanisms of paper decay resulting in physical and chemical changes. As such, it is of major concern for the preservation of our paper-based heritage. Although it is known that the rate of oxidation is slowed under anoxic environments, these conditions are expensive to achieve and maintain for whole collections. This research, in collaboration with the British Library, has evaluated the effect of various reduced-oxygen atmospheres (1-20%) on the kinetics of oxidative degradation, and has shown that significant rate reductions can be achieved. Oxidative reactions in artificially aged paper have been remotely monitored under a range of environments using transition metal redox reactions as colorimetric indicators. Samples of Iron (III) chloride-doped Whatman paper were heat-sealed in food-grade barrier film bags, with VOC absorbent carbon cloths added. The package was flushed with a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen (1-20% oxygen) and exposed to accelerated ageing conditions for up to 105 days. The colorimetric change was measured through the barrier film and monitored every 100h (approx.). As part of the design of their new high density storage facility, the British Library has utilised OxyReduct® technology - a reduced oxygen fire-suppression system (14.8% oxygen). The research has shown that even at these oxygen concentrations, the rate of paper degradation is significantly reduced. These results have implications for future design of large-scale storage for paper-based collections, indicating that fire-suppressant technologies like OxyReduct® may also be used as a preventative tool.

Keywords:Kinetics of paper degradation, Low oxygen environments, Preventive conservation
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F200 Materials Science
F Physical Sciences > F100 Chemistry
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:10692
Deposited On:08 Jul 2013 20:51

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