Assessment of a biological approach for the protection of copper alloys artefacts
2013, Joseph, Edith, Letardi, Paola, Junier, Pilar, Simon, Anaele, Comensoli, Lucrezia, Job, Daniel, Wörle, Marie
We propose an innovative treatment by which the protection of copper-based artefacts can be provided by naturally occurring microorganisms. The properties of some fungi were exploited for the transformation of existing corrosion patinas into copper oxalates. The latter are known to be insoluble and chemically stable. Within the earlier EU-ARTECH and BAHAMAS projects, very promising results were obtained with an almost 100% conversion from copper hydroxysulfates and hydroxychlorides into copper oxalates. A fungal strain was used which had been isolated from vineyard soil heavily contaminated with copper. Further scientific investigations were carried out to determine the parameters of the process and allowing the formation of a reproducible and homogeneous patina of copper oxalates, called biopatina to highlight its biological origin. Particular attention was paid to the efficacy, durability and impact on colour of the newly developed treatment. Different copper and bronze coupons with either urban or marine patinas were prepared. Several analytical techniques were used for the characterisation of the patinas: Fourier Transform InfraRed microspectroscopy (µFTIR), colourimetry and Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS). The coupons were treated with either the biological treatment or reference materials (wax: Cosmoloid H80; silane: Dynasylan® F8263) and exposed to atmospheric corrosion (ISMAR-SMS Genoa Harbour, corrosivity class 5) in December 2011. The long-term behaviour and performance of the treatments under study was monitored and compared over a one year period using the same complement of analytical techniques used for the characterisation of the original patinas. These first measurements suggested a different weathering behaviour of the biopatina. In fact, in comparison to the silane and wax treatments the biopatina showed a lower colour variation, and a corrosion stabilisation process seemed to be in progress. A deeper analysis of colour and corrosion rate variation from different application methods was also achieved. The complete assessment of the different treatments will be finished this year.