PaintSquare.com
      | Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise
  

 

Download our free Bridge Coating Systems eResource Book

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


Ancient Organs Focus of Corrosion Study

Friday, March 15, 2013

More items for Program/Project Management

Comment | More

An organ-playing chemist has found a way to combine her passions for music and science by studying corrosion in centuries-old organ pipes.

Ancient organ pipes throughout Europe are suffering corrosion damage—so much so that some instruments can no longer produce sound.

One chemistry professor, who also happens to be an avid organist, set out to determine the cause.

Stellwagen organ
Photos: Ibo Ortgies, Göteborg Organ Art Center, Sweden

A professor from Oberlin College was awarded a major grant to study corrosion in organ pipes.

Half Million for Organ Research

Catherine Oertel, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Oberlin College & Conservatory in Ohio, received a five-year grant of nearly $475,000 to study the corrosion of historic Baroque organ pipes using laboratory exposure experiments.

Supported by the grant, awarded in 2012, undergraduate researchers collaborated with Oertel to analyze authentic pipe samples and the synthesis of corrosion products and related compounds.

Catherine Oertel

Dr. Catherine Oertel's work combines chemisty and materials science. Her focus: corrosion in centuries-old organs.

The funding is from the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), which grants money to teacher-scholars who integrate research and education into their work.

"My research brings something new to the chemistry department because there's an emphasis on materials research, which is at the interface of chemistry and engineering," Oertel said after she was awarded the grant.

"This work is different than pure chemistry. There's a growing interest among Oberlin students to engage in multidisciplinary study."

Oertel joined the Oberlin chemistry and biochemistry faculty in 2006. She holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Tin vs. Lead

As an undergraduate at Oberlin, she became fascinated with organs after listening to recitals at the school and later decided take organ lessons for fun. She became fascinated by the way the centuries-old organ pipes were corroding and was later awarded a National Science Foundation Discovery Corps fellowship to work with a corrosion chemistry group at the Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt) in Sweden.

At GOArt, organ builders and scientists at the Chalmers University of Technology collaborate on researching compositions, physical properties, and corrosion of organ pipe metal.

Oberlin pipe corrosion research

A pipe from a 1637 organ shows major corrosion damage. Some researchers believe that tin additives in lead pipes helped protect them from corrosion.

In her research, Oertel noted that organ pipes have a variety of lead-tin alloy compositions, ranging from pure lead to pure tin, and atmospheric corrosion from acetic acid and other woods acids has been a major cause of deterioration.

Field studies previously conducted by the European Commission-funded Corrosion Of Lead and Lead-tin Alloys of organ PipeS in Europe (COLLAPSE) led some researchers to believe that lead pipes gained some corrosion protection from tin additives.

Corrosion Layer Analysis

Oertel and her team decided to test this tin theory, setting up a series of laboratory exposure experiments and analyzing the resulting corrosion layers.

The researchers placed small samples of lead alloyed with as much as 15 percent tin in glass canisters and let the samples sit in acetic acid fumes for up to a month. Some of the canisters were set at 60 percent humidity and others at 95 percent.

Lead-tin samples showed dramatically less corrosion than pure lead ones at low humidity, Oertel's research found. At high humidity, the lead-tin squares were covered in clusters of corrosion.

After performing X-ray analysis, the team found that the presence of tin particles actually lost its protective ability when exposed to high-moisture conditions.

Since organ caretakers often use humidifiers to keep the instrument's wood from cracking, the humidity issue is important to understand, Oertel said.

While in Germany last summer, Oertel had the opportunity to play an organ from the 1600s, she told The Plain Dealer.

"In Germany in the 1600s and 1700s, there would have been hundreds of organs like this," said Oertel. But now, "these organs are the endangered species of the musical world."

The research, which Oertel described as "a deeply satisfying project," is ongoing and will look at other combinations of metals that are at risk for corrosion.

   

Tagged categories: Corrosion; Corrosion protection; Laboratory testing; Lead; Research

Comment from Aimee Beggs, (3/15/2013, 9:35 AM)

These historic organs deserve protection. Great efforts have been made in the last 40 years to save as much of the original pipework as possible and to restore and rebuild instruments and pipework that suffered "modernization" in the late 19th-early 20th century. Old pipework and completely mechanical action result in an exceptionally articulate "speech" that later instruments cannot duplicate. No surprise that an "Obie" (Oberlin grad) is involved in this interesting research project!


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (3/18/2013, 10:00 AM)

Unfortunate that the conditioning used to preserve the wood tends to be destructive for the metalwork. Any chance some type of penetrating oil could be used on the woodwork (would have to be all surfaces) instead of raising the humidity?


Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

PPG Protective and Marine Coatings Group
Industrial strength performance in ONE can.

Now get the durability and protection of two components in one can: Amercoat® ONE, PSX® ONE and Sigmadur ONE.


Ethox Chemicals LLC
Ethoflex® ER instantly upgrades your epoxy!

The only epoxy additive that improves flexibility, corrosion resistance, toughness, and adhesion, without hurting pot life, cure time, or increasing VOCs.


Minerals Research & Recovery

HIGH PERFORMANCE ABRASIVES


“Made in the USA!”

Why recycle waste from other countries? Go FASTER, CLEANER, at 1/3 THE COST with MR&R “All-American” Sharpshot®HP!!

WATCH THE VIDEO


SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings
http://www.sspc.org/

Join SSPC and Enhance
Your Career !


Midsun Specialty Products
Stopaq 30+ Year Coatings

Use Stopaq corrosion prevention coatings on pipelines, field joints, tank chimes, structural steel and more. Learn more at www.midsunsp.com/stopaq


Specialty Products, Inc. (SPI)
SIGN UP TODAY – HANDS ON TRAINING

After 40 years in the coating business, SPI has trained more industry professionals than any other polyurea manufacturer. Now offering more classes at more locations than ever before!


Termarust Technologies
Termarust (HR CSA) Chemically Stops
Active Corrosion

Hydro Utility Penstock Overcoated in 1997. Was power washed and overcoated with major cost saving. No environmental impact with Termarust's low LC50 of 41,007 ppm.


Chicago Corrosion Group
Vendor-neutral corrosion consulting

When reliability is paramount.
For more information,
call 877-516-9514


SAFE Systems, Inc.
Enduroguard -
The Tough Cable
for a Tough Industry.

Reduce maintenance costs and down time, increase job site safety with Enduroguard Cable. Available exclusively from SAFE Systems. UL listed, flexible, abrasion resistant and cut resistant.


HoldTight Solutions Inc.
NO FLASH RUST -
NO CONTAMINANTS

Our HoldTight®102 salt remover & flash rust preventer prevents flash
rust by removing surface contaminants. It has no equal; only wannabees.
Contact us for your
nearest distributor.
(800) 319.8802 sales@holdtight.com

 
 
 
Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us
 

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail webmaster@paintsquare.com