PaintSquare.com
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site

 

Advertisement

PaintSquare


Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


Ancient Organs Focus of Corrosion Study

Friday, March 15, 2013

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.

Advertisements
 
SAFE Systems, Inc.
 
Portable Blast &
Recovery Equipment
 
Trailer or skid mounted blast and recovery equipment. Systems designed for maximum versatility, environmental compliance
and overall cost savings.
Call 1-800-634-7278
 

 
Detail Masters
 
Overspray Removal
 
We offer professional, turnkey service and unparalleled quality!
Our process can save hundreds— even thousands of dollars. It's fast, environmentally safe and 100% guaranteed.
 

 
SEMicro Division, M.E. Taylor Engineering, Inc.
 
Coatings Adhesion Testers
 
The PATTI® accurately measures the bond strength between coating & substrate. Outfitted properly, the surface can be rough, porous, or curved & >10K psi strong!
 

 
PPG Protective and Marine Coatings Group
 
We Protect and Beautify the World
 
PPG is widely recognized as a world leader in protective and marine coatings, developing innovative, cutting-edge products and services.
 

 
Tnemec Company, Inc.
 
Online Coating Courses from Tnemec
 
For decades, Tnemec has offered its expertise to clients presenting face-to-face coatings courses. Now, these presentations are available to anyone for CEUs at Tnemec University.
 

 
Termarust Technologies
 
Termarust (HR CSA) Chemically Stops
Active Corrosion
 
Arch truss treated with Termarust's (HR CSA) in 2003. This steel arch bridge is rust free on all surfaces including the crevice corroded joints and connections.
 

 
SABRE Autonomous Solutions
 
Introducing the ALPHA1 Blasting Robot
 
Once installed and commissioned – simply
SCAN PLAN BLAST.
 

 
Manus Abrasive Systems, Inc./Mod-U-Blast Mfg.
 
Dry-Pro Air Dryers & Aftercooler Skids
 
Feature a compact design, small footprint and available in 6 models ranging from 250 CFM up to 1600 CFM. (2500 CFM H.D. models also available)
 

 
Fischer Technology Inc.
 
MP0R with rotating display screen
 
Automatic rotating display screen just like your smart phone. Click for Video
Call 800-243-8417
 

 
Safway Services
 
Your Access Advantage. QUIKDECK®
 
Provides safe, factory-floor-like working conditions. Can be engineered to fit almost any shape, structure or size. Modular platform easily assembled from just a few basic components. Excellent containment. Applications include vessels, offshore rigs and bridges.
 

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings 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