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Monday, 23 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Applications, Protective & Marine coatings

Hydrophobic coating to protect limestone buildings

Friday, 28 December 2012

Researchers from the University of Iowa and Cardiff University have developed a new technology to minimise chemical reactions that cause buildings to deteriorate.

The new water-resistant coating can protect buildings made of limestone

Source: Rainer Schmittchen/ Fotolia

The new water-resistant coating can protect buildings made of limestone

Source: Rainer Schmittchen/ Fotolia

Researchers from the University of Iowa and Cardiff University have found out that buildings and statues constructed of limestone can be protected from pollution by applying a thin, single layer of a water-resistant coating. In their study, the researchers report a new way to minimise chemical reactions that cause buildings to deteriorate.

The coating includes a mixture of fatty acids derived from olive oil and fluorinated substances that increase limestone's resistance to pollution.

"This paper demonstrates that buildings and statues made out of limestone can be protected from degradation by atmospheric corrosion, such as corrosion due to pollutant molecules and particulate matter in air, by applying a thin, one-layer coating of a hydrophobic coating,” Vicki Grassian, professor at the University of Iowa, says. "We showed in particular that the degradation of limestone from reaction with sulfur dioxide and sulfate particles could be minimised with an application of this coating.”

York Minster - a perfect structure to study

One of the buildings the researchers chose for their study was York Minster, a cathedral located in York, England, and one of the largest structures of its kind in northern Europe. Construction of the current cathedral began in the 1260s, and it was completed and consecrated in 1472.

Grassian says York Minster was a perfect structure to study because its limestone surface has been exposed for decades to acid rain, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants. She notes other historic limestone structures could benefit from the coating, including many in the United States.

She notes other attempts have been made to protect existing stonework in cultural heritage sites; however, those coatings block the stone microstructure and prevent the edifice from "breathing”, thus creating mold and salt buildup.

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