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Thursday, May 30 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
(Paintings + Research and Technical Studies) Water in Oil Microemulsions: A Novel Cleaning System for Acrylic Paints

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This presentation will offer an update on the continuing collaborative research project between The Dow Chemical Company, the Getty Conservation Institute and Tate, which aims towards development and evaluation of novel systems for the cleaning of acrylic paints. Early findings from this project were presented at AIC Los Angeles 2009 and AIC Milwaukee 2010.

One class of potentially useful formulations that was identified in the early phase of the project was (water-in-oil) microemulsions; these are thermodynamically stable preparations consisting typically of water, non-miscible (hydrocarbon) solvent, co-solvent and surfactant. Such preparations offered the possibility of exploiting the cleaning efficacy associated with aqueous systems but in a predominantly solvent environment. A series of trial microemulsion cleaning formulations prepared by Dow have been evaluated by Tate and conservators at a series of training workshops focused on the practice of cleaning acrylic painted surfaces, and those evaluations have contributed to further refinement of the formulations for better compliance with the performance criteria desired by conservators.
The presentation will report the progress of this ongoing research collaboration focusing in particular on the development of the microemulsion systems. Three classes of microemulsions have been developed to offer a range in cleaning power and formulation latitude. All three systems contain an aliphatic hydrocarbon continuous phase. The systems differ in the type of surfactant and presence/level of an alcohol co-solvent. The co-solvent is required with some systems to enable a stable microemulsion structure. Phase diagrams for these preparations will be presented which demonstrate the range of proportions of the respective ingredients at which stable microemulsion systems are maintained; these include preparations that are (hydrocarbon) solvent-rich and low in surfactant and water content. Observations will also be presented on the comparative performance of these cleaning systems from the point of view of the practicing conservator, including their application to a wider range of substrates.


Melinda H. Keefe

Research Scientist, The Dow Chemical Company
avatar for Thomas Learner

Thomas Learner

Head of Science, Getty Conservation Institute
Tom Learner is Head of Science at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in Los Angeles. He has a PhD in chemistry (University of London, 1997), and a Diploma in conservation of easel paintings (Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 1991).  At the GCI, he oversees all scientific research being undertaken by the Institute and develops and implements projects that advance conservation practice in the visual arts.  Prior to this appointment... Read More →

Bronwyn Ormsby

Principal Conservation Scientist, Tate
Dr. Bronwyn Ormsby is Principal Conservation Scientist at Tate London, UK, and is responsible for the Conservation Science and Preventive Conservation section of Tate's Conservation Department. Bronwyn has been at Tate since 2003 in various roles within the Conservation Science section and has a background in biochemistry and paintings conservation. As a scientist she specialises in the analysis of materials from works of art using FTIR... Read More →
avatar for Alan Phenix

Alan Phenix

Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Alan Phenix is a paintings conservator, conservation educator and conservation scientist. He is presently 'Scientist' at the Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, working partly for the Collections Research Laboratory (CRL) and partly for the Modern & Contemporary Art Research group. His work concerns mainly the analysis of art materials and the study of artists' technique.

Thursday May 30, 2013 3:00pm - 3:30pm
JW Marriott White River Ballroom F 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204