Bronze sculptures exposed in public areas are an important part of cultural heritage, but corrosive urban atmospheres lead to their degradation. The aim of this project is to develop new solutions for their characterisation and to improve methods for their protection.
Firstly, a detailed spectroscopic and electrochemical material characterization of selected bronze sculptures will be conducted in order to define key parameters for laboratory studies.
Then the possibility of using long-chain organic acids for improved adhesion of solvent and water-based organic coatings on the bronze substrate will be examined. The conditions under which a strongly bonded organic acid layer is formed on the bronze surface will be determined, as well as whether the interaction between the functional groups of organic acids and coatings can lead to improved adhesion of the coating. The protective properties of the modified coatings will be investigated by accelerated corrosion tests using ionizing irradiation and an industrial chamber, as well as by electrochemical tests in electrolytes that simulate urban rain.
An additional innovative aspect of this project is the development of an electrochemical cell for corrosion measurements that could be easily applied to bronze sculptures. Electrochemical methods are essential methods for characterizing the corrosion stability, but require the use an electrochemical cell with aqueous electrolyte, which makes it difficult to apply on real objects of curved geometry. This project will explore the possibility of designing a simple electrochemical cell with hydrogel or conductive paste electrolyte that would be applicable for conduction of non-destructive electrochemical testing on bronze sculptures. The cell will be tested on laboratory samples as well as on sculptures in order determine its practical applicability.