The chemical and biological deterioration of paper-based materials is mainly due to the degradation of its main component, the cellulose. However, paper also contains small amounts of organic and inorganic additives which might influence its biodegradability.
To protect the paper-based materials against various degradative agents, coating treatments with polymeric materials might be developed. In this study, the protective effect of commercial waterborne polyurethanes (WPU) against an enzymatic attack was investigated.
Uncoated and coated samples with WPU of newsprint were subjected to degradation by enzymatic complexes (cellulosomes) produced by Clostridium cellulolyticum for different incubation times and then characterized using several analytical techniques (energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence, scanning electron microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, Raman and infrared spectroscopy) with the aim to assess if waterborne polyurethanes can be used in paper conservation, looking at their efficacy against the biodegradation induced by enzymes.
The selected waterborne polyurethanes showed a high effectiveness in the protection of paper-based materials when they were submitted to the enzymatic attack. Indeed, their presence delayed the destruction of the cellulose matrix and the release of both soluble sugars and paper additives. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2009
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