Cellulose Nitrate in Conservation
This report attempts to isolate and separately examine each of the factors known to lead to cellulose nitrate decomposition, and then relate their contribution to the instability of the polymer when it is used as a bonding agent for ceramics and as a lacquer for metal objects. These factors include deterioration caused by heat, radiation, or acid impurities, or through the loss of plasticizer. There is, moreover, decomposition caused autocatalytically by the initial breakdown products. In particular, the publication examines new information on chemical changes under ambient conditions that has been developed recently through advances in analytical procedures such as chemiluminescence, X-ray scanning spectroscopy (ESCA), and more sophisticated viscometry. This new information will be added to the large body of data, collected over the past 150 years, on the instability of cellulose nitrate under more severe conditions.