Effectiveness of Graft Synthetic Polymers in Preventing Biodeterioration of Cellulose-Based Materials



Synthetic polymers have been occasionally applied to the consolidation and protection of paper and cellulose-based textiles especially when traditional conservation methods were not sufficient to improve the mechanical resistance of the degraded artefacts. In this paper, the potential of the innovative technique of grafting polymerisation with synthetic polymers was investigated to prevent biodeterioration. Cotton, linen and Whatman paper were consolidated by a) coating Paraloid B72®, b) coating ethyl acrylate/methyl methacrylate (EA/MMA) preformed copolymer, and c) grafting onto cellulose chains EA and MMA monomers in the ratio 75/25. All the samples were artificially biodeteriorated to obtain biodegraded model samples of both consolidated and non-consolidated substrates, according to the ASTM G21-96(2002) “Standard Practice for Determining Resistance of Synthetic Polymeric Materials to Fungi”. The consolidating effect was examined evaluating the mechanical behaviour of the grafted and coated samples, before and after the artificial biodeterioration. In addition, SEM observations were applied to monitor both the grafting level and the biodeterioration of the samples. With the grafting of acrylic monomers, the mechanical strength of cellulose-based textiles and paper was greatly improved, as well as the resistance to biological agents. Therefore, with regards to biodeterioration, the graft copolymer EA/MMA (75/25 wt) was proved to be a suitable method to help prevent possible deterioration of paper and textiles.