Quo Vadis, plasticizer?

Parts of Joseph Beuys’ installation art that came to our lab are covered with a layer of sticky liquid due to the migration of the PVC plasticizer and we decided to test the resistance of that layer to external factors.

For this purpose, we conducted research using infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) at the Faculty of Chemistry of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Preliminary analysis of the FTIR spectra showed a significant degradation of the surface layer of the plasticizer, which may undergo partial hydrolysis meaning that the surface of Joseph Beuys’ works of art contains a mixture of many degradation products of the plasticizer including acidic ones.

It didn’t suffice to satisfy our research “appetite” and we also studied the mechanical properties of the material that is hidden under the surface layer. Thanks to the use of dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) and the principle of superposition of time and temperature, we will be able to predict how Joseph Beuys’ objects will behave even after three hundred years!

This research is part of the PVCare project funded through the OPUS-LAP 20 programme in collaboration between NCN (National Science Center, Poland, project no. 2020/39/I/HS2/00911) and ARRS (Slovenian Research Agency, project no. N1-0241). 

If you want to know more about Joseph Beuys’ art that we study check out:


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