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Decoupling hydrolysis and oxidation of cellulose in permanent paper aged under atmospheric conditions.

In order to investigate a synergetic role of water and oxygen in the degradation of permanent paper in archiving climate, accelerated ageing in three different conditions was conducted: humid air, humid nitrogen and dry air. This allowed to decouple acid-catalysed hydrolysis versus oxidation of cellulose. After ensuring the reliability of the ageing experiment, the degradation state of the paper was assessed. Various techniques (size exclusion chromatography, pH extraction, alkaline reserve, paper colour and water content) were used. It appeared that the cellulose scission rate of the Canson® permanent paper was reduced compared to the Whatman No. 40 acidic cotton paper used as reference, but not in the same proportion for all the ageing conditions. This was attributed to a lower acidification, inhibiting acid-catalysed hydrolysis, due to the presence of the alkaline reserve. The degradation mechanisms are the same for both papers, which exhibited a similar chemical and physical degradation.

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