Oops, I thought that those books had been deacidified

Martin A. Hubbe


Major libraries have been placing increasing reliance upon non-aqueous mass deacidification in an effort to avoid hydrolytic decomposition of the cellulose during storage of bound volumes. Such decomposition is especially a problem when the printing papers used in manufacture of the books have been prepared under acidic conditions, using aluminum sulfate. But there is reason to doubt that the widely used non-aqueous treatments, in which “alkaline reserve” particles are deposited in the void spaces of the paper, can achieve neutralization of acidity throughout the paper structure under the conditions most commonly used for treatment and storage. Anecdotal evidence suggests that alkaline particles such as CaCO3, MgO, Mg(OH)2, or ZnO can be present for long periods of time adjacent to acidic parts of cellulosic fibers without neutralization of the acidity, especially the acidity within the fibers. If these phenomena can be better understood, then there may be an opportunity to use a high-humidity treatment of certain “deacidified” books in order to achieve more pervasive protection against acid-induced degradation.


Acid catalyzed hydrolysis; Accelerated aging; Paper permanence; Relative humidity

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Welcome to BioResources! This online, peer-reviewed journal is devoted to the science and engineering of biomaterials and chemicals from lignocellulosic sources for new end uses and new capabilities. The editors of BioResources would be very happy to assist you during the process of submitting or reviewing articles. Please note that logging in is required in order to submit or review articles. Martin A. Hubbe, (919) 513-3022, hubbe@ncsu.edu; Lucian A. Lucia, (919) 515-7707, lucian.lucia@gmail.com URLs: bioresourcesjournal.com; http://ncsu.edu/bioresources ISSN: 1930-2126