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Long term stability of biodegradable polymers on building limestone
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Synthetic polymers can be replaced by biodegradable ones as adhesives, water repellents and consolidants on the stone surfaces and facades of the historic buildings in their conservation to minimize future deterioration. In this study, the long-term stability of two biodegradable polymers, polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and poly-L-lactide (PLA), and an acrylic polymer (Paraloid B72) which is commonly used in conservation works of artefacts, were evaluated on limestone using a UV lamp-weathering chamber (up to 104 days) for future protection studies. Chemical and morphological changes induced by an accelerated weathering test were examined by Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analyses. Protection efficiency of the polymers was determined by the changes in color, capillary water absorption, static contact angle on limestone. Paraloid B72, PHB, and PLA coatings significantly increased hydrophobicity while decreasing capillarity water absorption and caused negligible change in the color of the limestone. Protection efficiencies of PLA and PHB polymers were almost the same as that of Paraloid B72, a widely used acrylic polymer. However, PLA and PHB seemed to be favorable polymers as protective agents due to their reversibility and biodegradability, low chromatic changes, good hydrophobic behavior and good stability to weathering in reducing the effects of outdoor exposure on limestone surfaces.