Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Studies in Conservation, Volume 57, Number 4, p.227-236 (2012)
This article compares chemical dechlorination treatments (immersion in sodium hydroxide or alkaline sulphite) and electrochemical treatments of iron bars from the Gallo-Roman period excavated from a marine environment. Some important parameters, such as storage before treatment, temperature, solution composition, and drying after treatment, were varied during the study to assess their influence on the chloride extraction process. The kinetics of these treatments depend mainly on chloride diffusion through the corrosion layers. The kinetics are promoted by high temperatures and, in the case of electrolysis, by the electric field effect. The reduction of corrosion products during electrolysis occurs only for objects previously stored in air. In fact, the manner in which the objects are stored before treatment is critical in the dechlorination processes. The sooner the objects are treated after excavation (with water storage), the better the removal of chloride ions, in both chemical immersion and electrolysis treatments. But if the object is stored in air, material losses occur, and only electrolysis results in complete extraction of the chlorides. These differences are due to modifications in the corrosion products during storage. Drying after treatment also has a significant impact on the composition of the corrosion layers. If the objects are dried too quickly, Fe(OH)2 oxidizes into FeOOH, which thus forms a layer with low cohesion.